This week I met with Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at AVG, to discuss the company's recent research into education and trends around the "Digital Coming of Age".
Published in April, the survey took in 4,400 parents of 14- to 17-year-olds in 11 countries. It found that around half of UK parents were friends with their children on Facebook, a fifth had seen explicit or abusive messages on social networks, and the same number suspected their children of accessing online pornography.
Only 30 per cent of UK parents were concerned about the effect that their children's social media use might have on their job prospects; 59 per cent believed that schools were effective in teaching their teens to responsibly navigate the internet.
Anscombe said education around online safety is a challenge for parents as there is some misunderstanding about whether they, or the school, should be responsible – cyber bullying, he said, was an example of something that happens both in and outside of school.
He said: “Sixty per cent of parents admitted to snooping on their [children's] web history, so are they in denial about what their children are doing? Also, how many parents do not get it? Do they understand that what goes online could affect [a child's] prospects? The private sector is now searching on people's names. People need to understand that what goes online stays online, and to educate parents is very important.”
Will Gardner, CEO of ChildNet International, said: “We know from our work in schools that children and young people are using a wide range of devices to surf the net and we also hear from many parents who are confused about how their children are getting online and what they are doing online.
“One of our key messages is to encourage parents to talk with their children and young people about what they're doing online, who they're talking to and to find out whether they have any safety concerns. It's great when families can connect online, but offline conversations are also a key part of staying safe online.”
While not strictly a business story, what interested me is that the education factor is getting to be more and more prominent. Who is responsible: parents or the school? Are they even up to speed to be able to teach on these subjects?
These children, after all, are the next generation of executives.