12-year-old Jacob plays trumpet and water polo and still loves to watch cartoons on a Saturday morning. He also messages girls on his sneaky Snapchat account during maths class, and searches for porn at recess - using the BYO device his school has mandated.
Jacob is not a “problem child.” In fact, he’s not unusual in the slightest - although his parents might be shocked if they knew the truth about his online behaviour during school hours.
Startling findings from a major study of Australian school students show Jacob is in good company. Up to three-quarters are seeking out questionable content on their mobile devices during school hours, according to the data, with 45 percent of boys and 30 percent of girls trying to access pornography on school days.
And that's not all, folks.
The data also reveal:
- Nearly half of pre-teens access social media, despite 13+ age restrictions.
- Pre-teens take bigger internet risks immediately after school, seniors after dinner.
- At any one time during a school day 25% of middle school and 40% of senior school students are on social media.
The study was conducted by analysts at Australia’s leading school and home cyber safety group, Family Zone Cyber Safety. Family Zone compiled anonymous statistics on the internet use of more than 3,000 of New South Wales and Victorian students during school time.
The data revealed more than 50 percent of children under 9 attempted to access inappropriate or questionable websites and apps during school hours. This percentage rose to more than 60 per cent for children aged 9 to 12.
“Our research confirms the anecdotes we hear from parents and cyber experts. Students are spending significant time online at school, social media is taking hold at ever-younger ages and accessing pornography has become mainstream for boys and girls alike,” says Family Zone managing director Tim Levy.
“What must worry educators is the high use of social media during school hours, which research is now demonstrating impacts attention, consolidation and educational outcomes.”
Levy added that “most attempts to access inappropriate material were blocked by Family Zone technology.”
Another unwelcome surprise in the data was a clear pattern of pre-teens undertaking most of their risky activity in the hour immediately after school, while en route home.
Parents who blame themselves for their children’s online transgressions need to remember that “it takes a village” to keep our connected kids safe and sound, with close coordination between school, parents and the wider community.
“Raising screenagers is really, really difficult,” says cyber expert Dr. Kristy Goodwin. But help is at hand, she adds, thanks to cloud-based filtering software like Family Zone, that can be easily installed on every device our children use.
“As a concerned mum myself, I’ve personally downloaded and used Family Zone,” Dr. Goodwin told Channel Nine’s Today show. “This is a cloud-based cyber safety platform that provides personalised access when kids are at home and when they’re out and about.
“That’s so important because it means that whatever restrictions and limitations you enforce at home actually travel with the child and their many digital devices. So it gives parents that peace of mind that their time online won’t compromise their health and safety.”
With Family Zone, you can prevent your child from accessing inappropriate content at school, at home, and everywhere in between. Start your free trial today!