A new report about internet usage among children, released on Tuesday, revealed that almost every child between eight and sixteen years of age in the survey is active on social media.
The social media use among children in the city, at 90%, was found to be higher than the national average of 81%. Among these city children, more than 53% were under 12 years old and 40% were between 10 and 13 years old.
Intel Security’s Teens, Tweens and Technology 2015 report had surveyed 2,370 children and parents from metro cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Pune and Hyderabad.
While the children are logging on to social media at an early age, they are also indulging in risky online behavior, the study found. Of the children using social media, 54% said that they did not mind meeting an online acquaintance in person. While 77% have published photos, 56% have posted their email address, 47% have posted the name of their school and 50% have posted their full birth date or phone number (42%).
This indiscriminate revelation of personal information has led to a high occurrence of cyber-bullying, found the study. Around 24% of children in the city stated that they had been bullied online, while 57% admitted to bullying others on social media. Interestingly, India had more bullies than the United States (35%) and Singapore (29%). Also, 69% children said that they have witnessed bullying but only 33% reported it. Cyber bullying means use of technology to harass, embarrass or target a person. The report highlighted that cases of cyber bullying were high in the city owing to children’s risky online social behaviour.
“An unprecedented level of personal data is now available online, expanding the risk canvas exponentially,” said Venkat Krishnapur, head of operations for Intel Security Group’s India Development Centre.
As many as 76% of the city parents surveyed said that they would not monitor their child’s online activities because they feel it is a breach of trust, while 41% said they don’t feel that it is necessary.
“Parents are exposing children to screens at a very young age. Besides hampering their development, this also puts children at risk,” said Yogesh Patel, director, Swami Vivekananda International Schools, Kandivli and Malad. “Parents need to keep a watch on what their child is doing online, especially if the child is under 16.”