Kids. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em and eat ‘em. Still, you can find out what they’re up to online. And according to research out today, school-age pupils are using their home PCs at for two main reasons: online chatting and downloading and sharing music.
Slightly scary for parents, four out of ten kids admit that they have “chat buddies” who they do not know in real life.
Some of these buddies were innocent, including friends of friends and children from other schools with similar interest, but a small number did admit that they had added people they were not sure about.
Also, a small number of respondents (all girls) had been asked by a friend they do not know in ‘real life’ if they wished to meet up. Reassuringly, not one of these girls had agreed to meet with the unknown person.
However, the study makes grim reading for the entertainment industry, with half of those interviewed admitting to using peer-to-peer software (P2P) to download music illegally.
And one in five pupils confessed to having their computers infected by a virus after using P2P software, which sounds awfully familiar.
Not that mum and dad will be happy if that virus whips away their credit card details as they shop online.
“A large percentage of children are using a shared computer for downloading music, using P2P software or chatting using instant messaging, whilst their parents are using it for emailing, online shopping, banking or completing corporate activities,” said Kevin Gourlay, head of consultancy at GSS.
“This places parents at high risk of being exposed to a whole array of viruses, scams and Trojans that may have been introduced to the home computer through their children’s seemingly harmless activities on the net.”
UK-based IT security consultancy firm Global Secure Systems (GSS) conducted the research amongst 800 pupils in secondary schools over the last two years.
The study was part of a scheme set up by (ISC)² with the support of Childnet International, where certified information security professionals go into schools and talk to pupils about being safe and secure online.