Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cyber Risks Indian School Children face while using the Internet and Facebook


A recent survey of 17,478 students between the ages of 12-18 years, in twelve Indian cities by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) threw up an interesting set of statistics on how Indian Gen Y Kids used technology. I analyzed the cyber risk associated with these trends.
1 out of 4 students spent over an hour online each day, primarily for school work and to chat/connect/blog.
Risk: Children constantly face cyber risks every time they go online. The degree of cyber risks to which individual children are exposed to varies from mild to severe.  In all there are four major categories of such risks namely content, conduct, contact and cybercrime; with content being the largest of all.
Other popular uses were to download music, access email and view movies
Risk: Unknowing introduction of malware on home computers when children surf, exchange files and download attachments. These attachments contain unseen malicious software which hackers can then use for cybercrimes.

4 out of 10 student shop online for books, music, and tickets (movie, airline and railways)
Risk: These children have access to credit cards which can be misused for online shopping, games or to buy access to premium adult content.
6 out of 10 students owned a Smartphone and 1 out of 4 used then to browse the net.
Risk: Children can use the internet without parental supervision to access inappropriate content such as adult content and chats.  They can also fall victim to online predators who entice children. The Internet provides anonymity, which allows such individuals – on social networking sites, chat rooms, or elsewhere – to assume multiple personalities, and pretend to be of a different gender and a wrong age. The absence of physical interaction brings in a false sense of security.      
8 out of 10 students used Facebook for socializing and chatting
Risk: Loss of privacy as information children post about themselves and their family such as wealth, travel plans, and relationships can be used by thieves, predators, and others with bad intentions. Children need to be educated on what information could and should not be posted online. Another, key risk is Cyber bullying, in which a bully posts offensive, derogatory and hurtful comments which affects the victim’s self-image, esteem and relationship with other children. Information posted in blogs, posts, photos or comments, however thoughtless or baseless, do take an emotional toll of their victims.

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