Microsoft Supports Safer Internet Day in Commitment to Keep Children Safe Online
A Spotlight on Safer Internet: Microsoft is committed to helping parents keep their children safe when online, offering a range of tools designed to mitigate online risks. As there is no substitution for parents and teachers playing an active role and talking to children about online dangers, Microsoft is proud to participate in Safer Internet Day.
LONDON — 8 Feb 2011 — For the third year, Microsoft Corp is supporting Safer Internet Day (8 Feb 2011), organised by Insafe network, a European Commission initiative to raise internet safety awareness across Europe. Safer Internet Day promotes safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world. A total of 819 Microsoft employees across 24 European countries will take part in volunteering activities on Safer Internet Day, with an aim to reach and train over 84,000 children, teachers and parents about how to effectively help protect children online.
This year’s Safer Internet Day will focus on the theme “it’s not a game, it’s your life,” which will underscore the fact that whether children are entertaining themselves on social networking sites, sharing videos or pictures, or playing games online, the things they share and the things they say can have profound consequences.
Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International, said, “With the proliferation of social media, the issue of online safety is more important than ever before. Most parents understand the significance of talking to their children about the associated dangers of online activity, but, as the online landscape continues to evolve, parents need to stay vigilant and actively involved. At Microsoft, we’re dedicated to empowering parents to protect their children, and this means giving them the right technological tools, as well as supporting parents and teachers in terms of educating our children.”
Research polling done on MSN by Microsoft released today,* 8 Feb 2011, explored attitudes and behaviours of both parents and children (ages 14–18) around online safety. The survey found that parents are aware of the potential online dangers, with 87 per cent having talked to their children about the issues and 63 per cent rating this discussion on par with talking to their children about the “birds and the bees.”
However, only 36 per cent of parents use online parental controls or filtering software and over a quarter (26 per cent) take no action to limit or control their children’s internet use at home. In addition, while parents are talking, they are not always asking questions and listening: 44 per cent aren’t certain about whether their children are restricting access to their social media sites. In addition, more than one-third of parents (36 per cent) who responded do not monitor their children’s online activities at all, leaving them open to various potential dangers.
The research showed that children may be more tech-savvy than their parents, with 85 per cent of children only allowing access to their social network pages by friends and family (45 per cent) or using privacy settings to limit access (40 per cent). Thirty-nine per cent of children admit to looking at websites or playing online games that parents would likely disapprove of, and 67 per cent always (17 per cent), regularly (14 per cent) or have in the past (36 per cent) cleared out their browser history or cache to make sure their parents couldn’t view their online activity.
Not surprisingly, many children are engaging in risky behaviour, and nearly half (44 per cent) have lied about their age when online, over a third (37 per cent) of those who had been contacted by a stranger (75 per cent) responded and only 4 per cent told someone older that they trusted, such as a parent or teacher. Fifteen per cent of children also admitted they had communicated something via a social network that was intended to be hurtful or intimidating to another person.
John Mangelaars, vice president, consumer and online, Microsoft EMEA, said, “Youngsters are typically relatively tech-savvy, but this savoir-faire can have a downside as parents may feel like their kids don’t need ongoing advice or guidance with regard to online behaviour. However, children often cannot appreciate the longer-term implications of the things they share online, so it is incredibly important parents stay actively involved, talking regularly with their kids and using the parental technology tools that are available to them.”
Keeping Your Family Safer Online
There are a range of tools designed to mitigate online risks, including Windows 7 Parental Controls, Windows Live Family Safety 2011, and Zune and Windows Media Center family safety settings, allowing parents to restrict online content based on a child’s age. Windows Internet Explorer 8 and 9 Parental Controls allow parents to view specific and detailed information about their child’s online activity. Xbox Parental Controls help parents restrict their child’s ability to play inappropriate content, such as from games or DVDs.
Janice Richardson, coordinator of the Insafe network, which works to raise internet safety awareness across Europe, explains, “Safer Internet Day 2011 will be celebrated in more than 60 countries across the world, and this year we are exploring ‘virtual lives’ and how our real-life safety survives the online experience. Being ‘connected’ is critical for today’s youngsters who, in their desire to build an exciting online reputation, enthusiastically navigate between social networks, dating sites and online role-playing games. On Safer Internet Day we’ll be exploring online identities and the importance of staying safe online. We appreciate once again Microsoft’s participation in supporting parents and educators to make sure that today’s youngsters have the best online experience possible.”
“Internet safety is far greater than just the responsibility of any single organisation or individual,” said David Miles, EMEA director, The Family Online Safety Institute. “Safer Internet Day allows us to engage the efforts of stakeholders on all fronts including industry. One example is Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to training children and parents through its Safer Internet Day employee engagement initiative.”
- 67 per cent of teenagers have cleaned out their browser history and/or cache to make sure their parents can’t see what they were looking at online. 17 per cent say they always do it.
- 39 per cent of teenagers look at websites or play online games of which their parents would not approve.
- 44 per cent of teenagers have lied about their age online.
- 15 per cent of teenagers allow all internet users access to their information on social networks.
- However, 85 per cent restrict access to only family and friends or use privacy settings to limit access in some way.
- 75 per cent of teenagers have been contacted by a stranger via the internet, and as many as 37 per cent of these have responded to them out of curiosity.
- Out of those who have been contacted by a stranger online, 10 per cent have been scared by it, and 11 per cent have been worried.
- 15 per cent of teenagers have admitted to communicating something via a social network that was intended to be hurtful or intimidating.
- 23 per cent of teenagers would feel comfortable about making friends with adults online, which they would not ordinarily do, and 18 per cent would feel comfortable revealing secrets online they would not ordinarily share.
- 87 per cent of parents have talked with their children about potential online dangers — that’s a higher percentage than have had the “birds and the bees” talk (74 per cent).
- 65 per cent of parents are confident that their children are taking necessary safety precautions with the information they are sharing online.
- Over a third (36 per cent) of parents admit they do not monitor their children’s online movements or internet postings.
- 26 per cent of parents do not take any actions to limit or control their children’s internet use at home. 36 per cent use online parental controls or filtering software to block websites.
- 44 per cent of parents do not know whether their children have privacy settings on their social networks.
- 69 per cent of parents take steps to ensure their children don’t stumble on any adult-related sites they have visited.
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* The survey was conducted via MSN in 11 EMEA markets, including UK, Ireland, Spain, Finland, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Greece and Egypt. These markets provided a cross section from EMEA, and there were 8,000 total respondents across all markets.
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Keeping our kids safe online
By Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International
Every parent worries about keeping their children safe online, especially considering the fact that they’re online nearly every time we look. The proliferation of social media means children are now as active online as they are offline, and many consider their online profile as part of their personality. Children invest so much time in their online persona that parents now have a responsibility to be as involved in their children’s virtual world as they are in their physical world.
As a father and as a technology professional, I’m very proud that more than 800 Microsoft employees across 24 European countries are taking part in volunteering activities today to mark Safer Internet Day. This is the third year Microsoft has supported this campaign organised by Insafe network, a European Commission initiative to raise internet safety awareness across Europe. Through our volunteering activities, we aim to reach and train more than 84,000 children, teachers and parents about how to effectively keep children safe online.
To coincide with Safer Internet Day, we’ve conducted a poll on MSN across several EMEA markets to explore attitudes and behaviours of both parents and children (ages 14-18) around online safety. The poll produced some very promising results – it found that many parents are aware of the issues surrounding online activities, with 87% having spoken to their kids about potential online dangers. Further, we found that the online safety talk has become the new ‘sex talk’, with 63% of parents considering these discussions of equal importance.
However, there are still some significant knowledge gaps for parents, with 44% reporting they aren’t certain about whether their children are restricting access to their social media sites.
Kids by nature are inquisitive, adventurous and sometimes a little mischievous, and often overly-trusting. While they’re often very tech-savvy, they don’t have the life experience to always recognize the potential consequences of what they’re sharing and who they’re communicating with. The poll found that many children are engaging in risky behaviour, with 44% having lied about their age online and 15% having communicated something via a social network that was intended to be hurtful or intimidating to another person.
With social media now such a huge part of our children’s lives, I would encourage all parents to keep a watchful eye on what their kids are doing online and take proactive steps to ensure their safety. This link provides four helpful tips for parents seeking to learn more about how to protect their children online.
To close, I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the Microsoft employees that are giving their time to take part in volunteering activities today in support of such an important effort. I’d also like to thank all the teachers and parents who are participating for their active role in helping to keep all of our kids safe online.