Indian youth are constantly connected in Cyberia but parents still not supervising them enough – McAfee’s Tweens, Teens & Technology Report 2014

Long, long ago (future stories would go) children had little diaries with locks to secretly record their emotional out pour, dreams and aspirations. Those precious diaries were guarded fiercely and only a select few would have the privilege of getting a look at their writing. The world, in general, remained unaware of the child’s confidences.

But then there came the social media and the little diaries soon became a thing of the past.

Today, children globally have found a very acceptable and appealing platform to express, communicate, connect, share and broadcast. Thanks to the net and emergence of social media, they now can connect with people all across the world, get access to different views and air their own.

Social media has many advantages that suit the temperament of the children of the 2-minutes super-fast cyber age. They want to connect, and connect fast. They want to speak to many people at once and share things as they happen. They want their friends to know their emotions, empathize with them and offer advice, or approval, if needed. They want to know global opinion on subjects of their choice and discuss/debate these on a public forum. They want to gain confidence by making friends online. They want to share their ideas, creativity and angst. Social media fulfills all these needs perfectly.

The latest McAfee Tweens, Teens & Technology Report 2014 for India demonstrates the strong liking that tweens (8-12) and teens (13-17) have for this platform. 70% of online youth in India spend more than 5 hours on the internet in a normal week. Of these, 41% access the net predominantly on the desktop, 36% on the laptops and 27% use smartphones.

And if one reviews the different networking platforms they use, one will be left in no doubt as to the popularity of this medium among kids. Facebook is passé, children are connecting on newer platforms like YouTube, WhatsApp, Vine, Tumblr, Snapchat, Pinterest, Tinder, and Vine. What is noteworthy is that many tweens are on these platforms, despite the minimum age to register to these social networking sites being 13.

With kids being online with so much ease, connecting with anything that’s new, technical and trendy that they can well be called netizens. Not surprisingly, they have come to trust the virtual world more than the real world. After all, they can get all their queries answered; their need for friendship and peer approval met; and their spirit of adventure satiated. 53% of the tween/teens surveyed have met someone in person that they first met online, 52% chatted with strangers during online gaming and 42% with celebs who were live tweeting. This is besides the normal chatting with friends and acquaintances.

It is quite obvious therefore that quite a few kids will unwittingly or deliberately say more than they ought to, online. The current statistics supports this. Though 80% of those surveyed were aware that their online activity can affect their identity, yet 90% have posted content that have revealed their personal info or other risky data.

Children today are a curious mix of knowledge and naiveté. On one hand, they are very aware of the risks involved with careless use of the internet and on the other, they do not take measures to protect their self and their personal info, thus putting themselves at risk.

And this is where the parents come in. they are already supervising children in the real world and ensuring their safety and security. They now need to extend this to the virtual world as well.

Which means, parents need to:

(a) Understand and use technology like smartphones and laptops

(b) Be aware of the risks involved with e-mails, messaging apps and chat rooms

(c) Play online games with children to understand the environment from where they are picking up vocabulary, attitude, and ideas

(d) Sign up on social media to get a firsthand experience of the platform as well as keep an eye on kids active there, and

(e) Talk to children about how to stay safe when they go online or use social media

But the very first thing to do when they bring any internet-enabled gadget home is to secure it to keep it free from malware, activate parental controls and supervise kids online. The best solution for this is to install a branded, comprehensive security software that offers parental controls. Some reputed products for your computers, tabs and laptops are McAfee Live Safe. For the security of your smartphones, download the FREE, award-winning McAfee Mobile Security today!

More on the findings later. Till then –  Stop, Think & Connect.

Read my blogs and follow my tweets to stay updated on all cyber safety related matters.Stay safe, stay happy!

McAfee Teens, Teens & Technology 2014


The New language In Town – Virtual World Lingo- Do You Know It?

Over the years, a completely new set of terms, definitions, phrases, abbreviations and descriptions have invaded our vocabulary, thanks to gennext. It has happened slowly but steadily, and most of us are not even aware exactly when we learnt their usage and they became a part of our social media world.

Datz ryte, U gssd it crrct. Am tlkng abt d new lingo in town, SMS/Text/Tweet lingo dat we lrn frm d young & so prlfclly use.

For those of us raised to speak and write the Queen’s English grammatically correct, this is a difficult and a painful exercise. But the kids take to it like ducks take to water. And as usual, we go where the kids go. Even the Oxford Dictionary is going there, adding newly-coined terms every year!!

In addition to truncated words, there has also been a spurt in abbreviated phrases and clauses. Take for e.g. the ubiquitous LOL (laugh Out Loud), a suitable reply to pen when U read a funny post.  But here is a secret- when your teen says it out loud after you crack a joke or make a comment; it’s very unlikely he is appreciating your humour.

As parents to geeky, net-savvy tweens and teens you have your task cut out for you. Not only do you have to master modern gadgets, learn about security and net etiquette but you also have to understand the secret codes your kids use. Else how will you be on the same page, understand them and keep tabs on them? For all said and done and all those charged debates about privacy, kids need you to spell out their boundaries. They will test the limits of those boundaries however, and so you have to monitor them online. It will help if you know what they are saying and to whom.

Personally, I love codes and consider it a challenge to decipher them. I suggest you treat these words as codes and try breaking them. That way it will be less overwhelming (if that’s what you are feeling right now). It can be entertaining and eye-opening too. Some of the commonly used texts and abbreviations are (courtesy

BRB: Be Right back

B4N: Bye for Now

ILY: I love You

JK: Just Kidding

NIMBY: Not In My Backyard

WYWH: Wish You Were Here

XOXO: Hugs And Kisses

Well, these sound quite safe and teen-like don’t they? Just the way kids are likely to converse. But there are more. These are the ones the young often use to fog parents and you need to watch out for.

143: I Love You

182: I Hate You

ADR: Address

A/S/L: Address/Sex/Location

CD9: Code9 (which means parents around)

F2F: Face to face

PIR: Parents In Room

RU/18: Are You over 18

WYCM: Will You Call Me

That’s just a sample of the acronyms and abbreviations being used now. Knowledge of these abbreviations will help you know whether you should be worried about any online chat your child maybe having. And won’t you be a cool parent then? A parent with a sure cyber footing?

Here is a very handy resource for parents of my generation. The web’s largest resource for abbreviations and acronyms: Now isn’t that just wonderful!!!

Once again, McAfee Total Protection is the software that will do wonders for your peace of mind. Set parental controls for each individual child so that if they use suspicious language, you will be remotely informed. You can then ask for clarifications. You have the right to do so because you have given them the privilege of using internet-enabled devices on the understanding they will use them responsibly. It’s a parent’s duty to teach children the STOP.THINK.CONNECT message responsibly right from an early age.

Ciao, CUL8R!!

Resource for further reference: Netlingo-The Internet Dictionary:


Give Your Children The Digital Lock – Teach Them To Protect Personal Data

Recently, a Mother was sharing with me how her child started receiving calls and friendship request from complete strangers. The family was worried and puzzled as to how her phone number had become public. Then one day, a caller informed that he had got the number on an online dating service. Investigation revealed that the girl had participated in an online quiz and she had shared her mail id and cell number to get detailed results!

This is not a one-off case. According to the findings of the McAfee “Tweens And Technology Report 2013”, 41% of the tweens surveyed share information about themselves over FB! This is just the tip of the iceberg in my opinion, considering the huge Indian tween and teen population that go online everyday!

A Platter Full of Personal Data Anyone?

Sometimes, children, and even adults, offer their personal data on a platter to cyber crooks without realizing it. Remember that free game you had downloaded that had asked for your e-mail id, phone, PIN code to allow you access? Or that online competition where you had to share your date of birth, qualifications and current occupation? Many such dubious sites collect more information than they require and store or share it with unauthorized third parties. The result? What you thought was strictly private is now in the public domain.

Similar is the case with the forms you fill up in the hope of winning a lottery or competition. If it’s not a legit site, you stand the risk of revealing facts about yourself and the family that are best kept secret.

Excessive Sharing by kids can lead to financial losses

Children are often privy to your private conversations and are affected by whatever it is that trouble their family members. These digital natives think nothing of expressing their opinions online. The result can often land families in trouble like in the case of Dana.

Dana’s post in her Facebook account led to a breach in a confidentiality clause in a settlement received by her dad and the subsequent loss of the sum.

The girl had hit out publicly against an institution without any thought spared on consequences, stating, “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver….. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.” This boast caused the court to revert its decision.

Let personal data remain personal.

Think thrice before sharing:

1) Name

2) Date of birth

3) Address

4) Phone number

4) School/college/workplace details

5) Bank name and account number

Now is a good time to remind you of the cybersafety Mantra “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.”

One thing I have noticed about children is that most of them want to do the right thing, but without being nagged about it or under the threat of a ban. So if you teach them the basic online safety measures and ensure that the entire family follows a set safety manual, it’s very likely that when it’s their turn to decide, they will make the right choice.

Proper Education and Guidance Keys To Online Safety

While education includes talking to kids about the negative effects of over sharing or sharing without thinking, guidance includes setting up Internet usage rules, fixing usage time and installing comprehensive security software like McAfee Family Protection. You must make sure that your security offers parental controls, which as I keep stressing, is absolutely not for spying on kids but ensuring their online safety till they reach a certain level of mental maturity.

10 Safety Tips To Teach Your Children To Protect Their Data Online

  1. Turn off cookies that remember your data for automatic form filling
  2. Do not create an e-mail id that reveal true name and birth date
  3. Be wary of forms, surveys, quizzes, free offers that require you to share a lot of personal data
  4. Do not publicly share your e-mail or social media id
  5. Its better if children don’t go on chatrooms
  6. Share pics safely using Picasa etc. Sharing pics on social media is not advisable
  7. Be careful that your pics don’t reveal your location and address
  8. Don’t share status updates on WhatsApp. All your contacts needn’t know what you are up to
  9. Avoid chatting while playing online games. You may inadvertently reveal info about self/friends
  10. Be careful about what you download. Data collecting cookies can steal data from your PC

Make cybersafety a part of your life. For your own benefit.

Stay safe online and enjoy the cyber world! 🙂


Parenting 101: Raising Responsible Digital Citizens

Yes, yes I know. Being a parent, there are 101 things to be done every day. And you are probably thinking I am asking too much by suggesting you raise digitally aware kids. For this, it means you have to be a digital citizen who knows his/her way in the cyber world and can advise kids on correct behaviour, etiquette and security measures.

But just think for a second– Who else will do it, if not you, being the parent? And as your kids will be digital citizens, don’t you need to prepare them for safe digital lives?

The 10 things you must do to ensure your children are safe online:

  •  Learn Internet A, B, C to know your children are doing it right

Become a digital literate yourself and stay updated. It’s really easy to learn. Just learn the basics of operating a computer and signing up on social media. You will pick up more as you go ahead.

  •  Be their gaming partners and Facebook friends

The best way you can play an active role in their digital life is by being a part of it. Show interest in the games they play, sites they visit and their online friends. Make their digital life a part of your daily conversations so they can freely talk about anything they see or experience online. This will also help you to monitor them without raising their hackles

  •   Talk and share

Share your concerns. Talk about stranger-danger and malware. Let the children know that you are aware of the threats in the digital world and are talking from experience and knowledge. When you say ‘no’, offer logical explanations that they can’t refute easily

  •   Draw boundaries

Set rules and usage of Internet timings together. That way they get to use the internet at a time of their choice, while you can ensure it’s when a responsible adult is around. A win-win situation for both. Don’t forget to draw up penalties for breaking rules. It’s necessary to maintain discipline

  •   Be astute

Periodically review security and privacy settings: Children have short attention span and forget safety lessons. They often unknowingly give access to third-party apps and outsiders to their pages. Check for this and edit them. Tell your children what you did and why.

  •   Create their protective shields

Teach them simple tricks like how to get out of an awkward situation; how to handle online spats and how to reject friendship requests from strangers. Another must-teach is what to do if they are exposed to inappropriate content and to approach you if they feel threatened online

  •  Review their digital footprints

Drill into kids that “what goes online stays online”. Ensure that your child knows the long-term consequences of posting comments, status and pics. Tell them how pictures are morphed, words are used out-of-context to create wrong impressions and how posts can affect career & college prospects

  •  Brush, wash & sign-out at night

Teach kids digital hygiene along with personal hygiene. Just like they brush teeth and wash hands to keep out germs; they must use strong passwords, take regular backups, not download files from dubious sources, click on a link after verifying authenticity and keep the anti-virus running and Firewall ON to keep out malware. They must also sign out of all accounts every time.

  •   Insist on good manners everywhere

Even in the digital world. Discuss digital etiquette. Kids must behave fairly, wisely, kindly and responsibly. Stealing and cheating are wrong and punishable in the digital world as in the real world

  •  Well done and a pat on the back

Never take their good practices as granted and praise good initiatives. Show approval when they do the right things online.

The best digital hygiene you can ensure your kid is by installing advanced and comprehensive security software like McAfee Family Protection. You can create different login accounts for your each child, fix sites and timings and be informed if they connect with strangers or share inappropriate content. Learn more here.

And the mantra you need to give each child to stay safe online? – “STOP. THINK. CONNECT.”

To friend or Not To Friend My Teen on Facebook – That Is the Question

A very oft asked question at every talk I give is “Should I befriend my tween or teen on Facebook?” I understand the predicament of parents, having two netizens at home myself. There is always a quandary; how will the child construe it? Will he accept the friend request or will he rebel at this ‘intrusion’ into his privacy? Will a request be the harbinger of a series of parent-child spates?

I have a very simple approach to this. If the child is below 13, then I would no way permit him to sign up on Facebook by falsifying age. I am against being a party to deliberate fact falsification. Moreover, the social media is definitely not a safe place for a child to explore alone.

For a teen, I would suggest you prepare him a bit. Like talk about the need for joining this site; what he plans to do there; whether he would be willing to share any problems he faces with his siblings or parents? Also take the help of recent news to point out the dangers present on any networking site and ask how he will handle them. Once he signs up, request him to befriend you, with a promise that you would not embarrass him online. Teens are very sensitive about these things. If he resists, explain that sometimes an adult eye sees things more clearly and long ahead than a child’s eye. Say you would be like a security patrol that quietly roams the street, without invading anyone’s privacy, to ensure everyone is safe and no untoward element is lurking about.

I will give you some good reasons why a parent should befriend the child on Facebook. The findings of the McAfee India survey titled, “Tweens and Technology Report 2013” highlights that Indian kids are going online from an early age, in large numbers and for longer hours. And most of them are on Facebook!

Check this out:

  • 53% of online tweens are online daily between 1-3 hours!! Well, I’d like to be where my kids are, for sure
  • 70% kids stating that they have signed up on FB. That makes it a happy hunting ground for cyber crooks like Spammers and paedophiles, does it not? Monitoring needed here!
  • 88% of FB users share photos of themselves while 73% share photos of family & friends. Somebody, preferably the parent, needs to monitor this initially and point out which pics should not be shared and why and why it is not right to tag people without permission
  • 41% of the tweens surveyed share information about themselves over FB. You and I know how dangerous this can be, exposing the child to kidnappers and child stalkers. The kids are gullible and easily influenced. It’s better if you periodically monitor the child’s page to ensure that the child was not being coerced to share private information. See what happened to this girl when she invited her friends for a party on Facebook
  • 36% of online tweens have spoken to a stranger online. Well, I’d suggest you keep close tabs on friend list and install McAfee Total or McAfee LiveSafe to monitor chats
  • 12 year olds are more likely to have seen nasty comments online than 8 year olds (33% vs. 16%). You can actually use the child’s Facebook wall to teach him about bullying and its negative consequences. Also, you can discuss responses to Cyberbullying, if your child ever faces any. In case you find your child to be aggressive online, you can again take preventive measures. But for this, you have to be friends with the child on Facebook
  • 89% of the parents are friends with their child on Facebook, so why shouldn’t you be?

One very important lesson that you must give your child when he decides to sign up on Facebook is that he must be very, very particular about who he becomes friends with and what he will be sharing with them. Set strict rules about not befriending strangers, even if it happens to be the brother of a friend’s friend that he had met at some function. Give him the McAfee mantra—STOP, THINK, CONNECT.

Do remember, however, that it would be in your interest to maintain an invisible profile on your child’s wall. Do not comment on any picture or post. Share your feelings with your child personally. Never try to penalize your child by rebuking him on his page. It’s one of the worst things you could do to your child.

Relationships thrive on trust and respect and it has to work both ways. Also, little things like security software on all internet-enabled devices go a long way to ensure your equanimity and your child’s protection. 🙂

Tweens & Technology Report 2013-McAfee Survey Shows Rise in The Online Activities Of Indian Tweens Part II

As promised in my previous blog, this one is solely to share with you all the relevant findings of the McAfee India survey titled, “Tweens and Technology Report 2013”. There are so many interesting points that have surfaced that I felt it extremely worthwhile to share it with you here.

McAfee’s Tweens & Technology Report 2013- India

Daily dose of internet usage/ online hours has become a must for tweens.

a)      53% of online tweens are online daily between 1-3 hours

b)      One in three tweens would miss the internet and their phone if it was missing for a day

c)       Tweens are online for approximately 2 hours a day and 45% of online tweens are online later than 8pm

d)      Within 4 hours (from 5 pm to 9 pm) 76% use internet while 23% of tweens online till after  9pm

On an average, online tweens in India are using between 3-4 devices that can be internet enabled – laptop, mobile & desktop predominantly.

a)      61% of tweens are spending 1-4 hours daily on desktop

b)      40% of Tweens use tablets and 68% use mobile to access the internet, so mobile is important

Tweens have a clear preference for not only the devices used for internet connectivity but also the type of activity on these devices. So while desktop is preferred mainly for home work, tablets are dominant when it comes to exchanging pictures and playing games.

a)      70% use desktop for home work related stuff compared to 38% using tablet

b)      49% use tablets for playing games & exchanging pictures compared to 40% using desktop

c)       22% tweens spend 2-4 hours every day on Xbox

Smartphone/ Mobile:

Internet access is still predominantly PC/laptop based, however, mobile is important – 40% of Tweens use tablets and 68% use mobile to access the internet

a)      16% of tweens are spending more than 4 hours each day on smartphones/ mobile

b)      9 out of 10 tweens use mobile phone (89%) and tablets (91%) to play games

c)       Only 15% of tweens use phone for home- work related aspects

In terms of social networking platforms, FB is by far the most popular site, followed by Skype and Twitter. FB is used significantly more than Skype and Twitter

a)      Top 3 ranking in terms of usage – 70%- Facebook, 44%- Skype and 27%- Twitter 

b)      All sites (especially Facebook) are more popular with older Tweens 10-12 years old (FB usage ranges from 58% for 8 year olds to 79% for 12 year olds)

c)       88% of FB users use FB to share photos of themselves while 73% use it to share photos family & friends

d)      Almost half of the tweens surveyed share information about themselves over FB (41%)

e)      This year, Skype has emerged as more widely used than twitter whereby one out of two tweens uses Skype compared to one out of four who uses twitter

Facebook facts-

i.  89% of the parents are friends with their child on Facebook, signifying parents generally know what’s going on

ii.  89% of Tweens using Facebook have their parents’ permission to use the site

iii. 73% of Tweens using Facebook asked their parents to be their friend

iv. 83% of Tweens feel it is okay for them to be using Facebook because their parents are

v.  70% of tweens were taught to use Facebook by the parents.  52% were taught by friends

vi.  88% of users share photos of themselves on facebook, 73% photos of family & friends, 59% events and 59% information about themselves


With Facebook, a significant number of parents are handholding their kids on the platform by assisting them in setting up their account and monitoring their activities. But parents apply internet rules in terms usage and timings very strictly, much to the dislike of tweens.


a)      89% of online tweens have parental permission to use the site

b)      89% of online tweens are also friends with their parents on FB

c)       70% of online tweens say their parents showed them how to use Facebook

d)      57% claim they were helped by their parents when setting up one of their account

e)      89% of tweens using Facebook have their parents’ permission to use

f)       87% of parents place limits on online usage

g)      53% of parents remove online devices from tweens bedrooms at night

h)      49% of online tweens are frustrated by these rules

A disturbing trend on the rise among tweens is their apathy towards their own online safety.

i)        58% of the surveyed tweens use risky / low level security passwords online.

j)        41% of the tweens surveyed share information about themselves over FB

It is not uncommon for tweens to be exposed to online nastiness; however, a good thing is that they are not passive observers.

a)      12 year olds are more likely to have seen nasty comments online than 8 year olds (33% vs. 16%)

b)       1 in 4 (27%) of online tweens has seen as nasty common directed at them or a friend online, While 21% did nothing , most of the tweens who have witnessed online cruelty either told a friend (49%), told parent (46%), told teacher (20%), told family member(20%) or  someone else or looked onto internet for help rather than doing nothing

They are becoming more trusting of the virtual world to familiarise themselves with unknown people, in spite of being aware that it is risky

a)      36% of online tweens have spoken to someone online that they didn’t previously know

b)      12 year olds are more likely to chat with strangers than 8 year olds (40% vs. 25%)

c)       22% of online tweens have shared personal information online – 26% who did share this did not think it to be risky

McAfee’s Tween & Technology Report 2013 was conducted through a survey administered across Indian online tweens aged 8-12 years old comprising 572 male and 428 female respondents from Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Delhi.


Tweens & Technology Report 2013-McAfee Survey Shows Rise in the Online Activities of Indian Tweens Part I

Every evening, during my daily walk, I see my society kids taking a breather from their energetic games by checking out new songs, videos, posts and pics on each others’ mobile phones.  I often find their little heads almost conjoined over a smartphone screen, giggling and commenting over whatever it is they happen to be watching. Suddenly one gets the urge to click a selfie or a groupie and I know that all these snaps would be already uploaded by the time I reach home. I am friends with these kids on Facebook.

It’s not a phenomenon unique to my city. Across India, kids are becoming more and more hooked to gadgets and discovering the wonders of the net. And at much younger ages. The Internet gives them the power to do what was unheard of-try flight simulators, play online games, read books, watch videos, chat, share, make new friends, study, learn… the possibilities are endless!! How can then kids remain untouched by this mother of all excitement?

The latest McAfee survey, titled “Tweens & Technology Report 2013 “endorses that. They survey covers 1000 tweens in the age group of 8-12 across tier I cities in India. It reveals that Indian tweens are online for about 2 hours daily and 45% of them are online later than 8pm. Facebook, Skype and twitter happen to be the top three social media sites for kids, with Skype marking a phenomenal growth in popularity, with one out of two tweens using it.

The choice of Internet access also throws interesting light on the future trend in gadget preference. While currently 61% of tweens spend 1-4 hours daily on desktop, about 40% use tablets and 68% use mobile. Clearly, mobile phones are here to stay and prosper. Another interesting fact thrown up is that while they use the desktop for homework and projects, tablets are dominant when it comes to exchanging pictures and playing games.

What troubles me is that these kids access the net without knowing or giving importance to the importance of strong passwords or the need to keep personal information off the grid. The survey reveals that 58% of the respondents use risky / low level security passwords while almost 50% have shared personal information on Facebook! In addition, 88% share photos of themselves. Further, 36% of them have admitted to chatting with complete strangers! Let’s keep in mind here that 13 is the official entry age on Facebook.

But the redeeming factor is that most kids said that their parents have helped them join Facebook and 73% of tweens using Facebook have requested their parents to be their friend. Thumbs up for the kids!

Parents are also playing quite a proactive role in keeping kids safe online. Much to the kids’ chagrin, parents are strict about applying internet rules. Moreover, 87% of parents place limits on online usage while 53% do not allow kids to take their devices to their bedrooms at night. I applaud that! The findings are a great eye-opener and a wonderful set of talking points for parents and educators to start talking internet safety with kids, if they have not already done so, or have further discussions on it if they have been in the habit of communicating with kids on this issue.

As always, remember the three mantras for internet safety- STOP… THINK… CONNECT

To read the entire survey findings check out my blog titled “Tweens & Technology Report 2013-McAfee Survey Shows Rise in the Online Activities of Indian Tweens Part II”