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Tech-savvy teens finding ways around parents' online monitoring

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SALT LAKE CITY — With more to do on the Internet these days, there's a lot more for kids to hide. And research shows those tech-savvy teens are finding ways around parents' attempts to monitor online activity.

Being a teenager can be tough, but in today's world, they're experiencing that pressure onlin.

"We all understand teen peer pressure; it's been going on since the beginning of time," said Robert Siciliano of McAfee. "Peer pressure in social media is a pressure cooker."

That pressure is leading many teens to engage in risky behavior online, according to a new study from the internet security company McAfee. And it seems parents are not plugged in at all.

According to the study, three out of four teens did not tell their parents when they felt uncomfortable, pressured or threatened online. But experts say it's up to parents to start the conversation.

"Ignorance is not bliss in this situation," Siciliano said. "It's important that parents open up, talk to their kids, (that) they understand technology and walk through the Internet and all the different risks with them."

And monitor their devices.


"Parents need to monitor every aspect of their child's digital device, whether that's a mobile phone, or a laptop, or a Mac, knowing what they're doing and who they are doing it with," Siciliano said.

But tech-savvy teens can use tricks to bypass that monitoring. According to the study, clearing the browser history is the number-one way teens hide their online activity.

They may also create a duplicate email address or social media account, so the one parents check may not be the one they're really using.

Apps like PicsChecker or software like McAfee's Safe Eyes can help open parents' eyes.

"It gives the parents a greater degree of control so parents can understand their child's online life," Siciliano said.

And keep it as safe as possible.

KSL posted this parenting dilemma on Facebook, and the consensus seemed to be involvement: making a point to be involved in your child's online world.

Shelley Gardner tries to physically be around.

"The best monitor is just sit beside your child or stand beside them to have a conversation with them periodically through the day while they are on the computer," she said. "You will know if your child is minimizing the screen or hiding things they don't want you to see."

Bonnie Bosh has found it's all about information. She has access to her kids' passwords, and she does not allow computers or TV's in bedrooms.

"It's for their protection," she said. "It's not a punishment or invasion of privacy."

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Brooke Walker


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