August 2012

Have you seen any of these missing children?

Jasmine Madriaga
 Alexis Newman
 Ayla Reynolds
 Caleigh Harrison
 Jahessye Shockley


About Polly Klaas® Foundation





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Dear Friend,

This month we bring you:

  • Teens Using the Internet
  • What You Can Do to Keep Your Teens Safer



Being the parents of the first generation to grow up online has its challenges. Today, we’re sharing the latest information on how teens are behaving on the internet. This information can help you be more effective in guiding your teens safely to adulthood.

We know that families are “saturated with technology.” According to the Pew Research Center on Internet and American Life which says, “tech adoption and tech usage rates by teens’ parents are higher than the general population.” This means that parents of teens are making real efforts to keep up with their kids and their online lives.

While teens told the Pew Research Center they get internet advice from a variety of sources, they overwhelmingly say their “parents are the biggest influence on online and cell phone behavior.”

Today, 77% of all parents monitor their teen’s online behavior. This is for all ages, boys and girls alike. Most parents use parental controls on their teen’s internet access, and about a third use parental controls on teens’ mobile phones.

A very important finding is that both parents and teens report that they talk together about online safety. Here are the issues they talked about:

  • “What kinds of things should and should not be shared online or on a cell phone.”
  • “Ways to use the internet and cell phones safely.”
  • “Ways to behave towards other people online or on the phone.”
  • “What you do on the internet or your cell phone.”


Every parent wonders about the effectiveness of these conversations, hoping that their values and safety advice are heard, absorbed and implemented by each of their teens.

Knowing that teens often try out risky behaviors, parents need to know that their kid’s internet behaviors may not be as safe as they were hoping.

A new study by McAfee, the internet security company, outlines the risky behaviors many teens are exhibiting on the internet.

This new study says that 70% of teens hide their online behavior from their parents. While 2/3 of teens say their parents don’t need to know everything, half the teens say that if they knew their parents were watching, they would change what they are doing online.

The top 10 ways teens are hiding their online behavior (according to McAfee):

  • Clearing the browser history (53%)
  • Close/minimize browser when parent walked in (46%)
  • Hide or delete IMs or videos (34%)
  • Lie or omit details about online activities (23%)
  • Use a computer your parents don’t check (23%)
  • Use an internet-enabled mobile device (21%)
  • Use privacy settings to make certain content viewable only by friends (20%)
  • Use private browsing modes (20%)
  • Create private email address unknown to parents (15%)
  • Create duplicate/fake social network profiles (9%)

We know this is not a pretty picture, but we want to give you this information so you can do what you need to in order to keep your kids safe.

The McAfee study also uncovered that a number of teens are participating in risky and possibly illegal behavior, risking criminal records, such as: hacking into social network accounts, accessing pirated movies & music, and hacking into someone’s email. Kids are also admitting to using the internet to cheat on school exams. About 32% of teens look at porn online, and a good portion of them access it on a weekly basis.

Risky behavior also appears in online posts to social networks, including meeting up with someone they only know through online interactions, posting photos, some of them revealing or featuring intoxication. Some of the posted personal information includes:

  • Photos
  • Email
  • Name of School
  • Intimate Details
  • Cell Number

We hardly need to say that this is the type of information that cyberstalkers use to track down vulnerable young people.

With Facebook being the social media choice of the vast majority of teens (almost 90%), this is the place where many cyberbullying situations take place. Many, many teens have witnessed cyberbullying, while some have been the targets. Others have argued with friends on Facebook and have lost those friendships.



Even if you feel your teen is completely trustworthy, we recommend you take extra steps to guide your teen through these challenging times.

♦  Lead by Example

  •  Be transparent. Let your teens know what you do online, how you treat people, what you do when you see something you don’t like, what kind of information you post, and how you guard your privacy & safety.

     ♦  Commit to weekly conversations with your teens about online safety & behavior.

    •  Here are some suggested topics for your conversations
      • What kinds of things should and should not be shared online or on a cell phone
      • Ways to use the internet and cell phones safely
      • Ways to behave towards other people online or on the phone
      • What you do on the internet or your cell phone
    • Use examples from the press and your own life to show what can happen and the possible results of unsafe behavior.
    ♦  Make sure you’ve installed parental controls for internet and cell phones. Keep them up to date.

    ♦  Let your teens know you are installing those controls and what they will do. Let them know you are doing this for their safety.

     ♦  “Friend” your teens’ Facebook pages so you can monitor their Friends List, what those friends are posting on your teens’ Wall, and what information your teens are sharing on Facebook.



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      We receive no government funding.



       About Polly Klaas® Foundation
      The Polly Klaas® Foundation
      is a national nonprofit dedicated to the safety of all children, the recovery of missing children, and public policies that keep children safe in their communities.

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      © 2012 Polly Klaas® Foundation, P.O. Box 800, Petaluma, CA 94953
      E-mail: ~ Phone: (707) 769-1334 ~ 24 hour hotline: (800) 587-4357

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