Cheating and Bullying on the High-Tech Playground


Fall 2013 — Security News and Advice

Our younger years are a time to grow, learn and Yet peer pressure and competitiveness, have always been realities that can lead to behaviors resulting in negative consequences. And with the whole world watching online, the consequences can grow exponentially.

Technology has added fuel to the fire for two well-known tween/teenage activities: bullying and cheating. Bullying has moved from the playground to online, and cheating has taken on a new dimension.

According to McAfee’s 2013 Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids study, children are witnessing bullying online in great numbers and parents are not fully aware of the issues. Additionally, children are continuing to find ways to use technology to cheat, yet only half of the parents of cheating kids believed they had done so.

Here are some other important findings that parents need to know about their kids’ online lives:


  • Social media isn’t all fun and games – 89% of all youth (ages 10-23) surveyed say they witnessed mean behavior on Facebook and 40% witnessed it on Twitter.
  • Kids don’t outgrow bullying – 17% of children ages 10-12 say they have witnessed mean behavior directed at a classmate or friend online, but that number jumps to 34% for young adults ages 18-23.
  • Parents don’t know the full extent of the problem – Only 9% of parents believe their child or children have witnessed cruel behavior online; even worse, only 6% think that their son
    or daughter has been a target of this cyberbullying, when in reality 13% of youth report they have been targeted online.



  • It’s a bigger problem than you think – More than half of all 13 to 23-year olds surveyed admitted to looking up the answer to a test or assignment online; only 17% of parents believe their child has done so.
  • Smartphones are making us lazier – While only 10% of 10 to12-year olds said they had cheated on at test using a cell phone, this percentage doubles when looking at the 18 to 23 demographic.


So what can parents do to help change these negative behaviors? We must stay in the know. Since your kids have grown up in an online world, they may be more online savvy than you, but you can’t give up. You must challenge yourselves to become familiar with the complexities of the online universe and stay educated on the various devices your kids are using to go online.

Tips for parents:

  • Make sure you talk to your kids about Internet safety and what is and is not appropriate behavior online.
  • Establish clear guidelines that you all agree on including time spent online, and what type of content is okay post online.
  • Teach your kids to recognize cyberbullying and encourage them to talk to you about it.
  • Learn what your kids are doing with their mobile devices while they are in and out of school. It may surprise you to know how much time they are spending on them.

Last but not least, consider using tools to help keep your kids safe online and support family Internet rules. Consider a software like McAfee All Access that includes parental control software such as lets you protect your kids from inappropriate sites and stay informed about their online activities.

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