Facebook changing parental relationship

TRACEY CHATTERTON
Last updated 14:33 18/04/2012
Spying online
GAME CHANGE: Social networks such as Facebook have changed the parent-child dynamic, says AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon.

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New Zealand mothers are "spying" on their teenagers - but they claim it is all for their own good.

Parents questioned by internet security company AVG said they were concerned about their teens interaction on social media sites so were using sites such as Facebook to keep tabs on their children.

The global study found 44 per cent of the 407 New Zealanders questioned had accessed their child's Facebook profile without their consent.

Parents were worried their postings could affect their children's job prospects later in life, especially as a quarter of the parents surveyed had seen explicit or abusive messages on their teen's social networking profile.

Sixty per cent of Kiwi parents had friended their teen on Facebook so they knew what they were getting up to online. While 57 per cent of the 404 Australian parents had friended their teen.

AVG security advisor Michael McKinnon said the research suggested that Facebook and other social networking sites were creating a new kind of parental relationship.

In days gone by, parents acted as gatekeepers when friends rang up to speak to their children, but new technologies had cut parents out of the loop, Mr McKinnon said.

Parents were accessing their children's accounts when it was left logged on or asking their teen for their password so they could keep an eye on what they were posting.

''These sites are providing parents with new methods to monitor what their kids are doing without necessarily having to be heavy handed or to quiz their child directly", Mr McKinnon said.

Almost a quarter of the New Zealand parents surveyed thought their child's school was failing to educate their child about using the internet responsibly.

Mr McKinnon said parent's fears were valid as more employers were looking at Facebook accounts before hiring staff. He urged Facebook users to tighten their security as well as hiding or deleting old photos which may reflect badly on them at a later stage.

The study also found that almost one fifth of New Zealand parents expected their teen to be accessing pornography - and believed their sons were more likely than their daughters to watch porn on the internet.

Parents in the United Kingdom were most likely to suspect teens of 'sexting', while less than a fifth of New Zealand parents surveyed suspected their teens of text sex.

More than 4000 parents with 14 to 17 year-old in 11 countries, were questioned in the fifth instalment of AVG's Digital Diaries study.

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- The Dominion Post

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