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Your Children and Online Safety

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A few years ago, from time to time I used to visit the school where my wife taught IT, to talk to some of their students about IT security. In fact, we wrote a paper at that time(along with my good friend Eddy Willems), based on some research data we gathered between us in the UK and Belgium about student knowledge of and attitude towards security issues: Teach Your Children Well – ICT Security and the Younger Generation . We also drew on the same data for a chapter in the AVIEN Guide to Malware Defense for the Enterprise .

All that was six or seven years ago, but the online safety of the younger generation is an ongoing concern. However, Urban Schrott, my colleague at ESET Ireland, while considering the same issue, came up with an angle with an unexpected resonance. A teacher is expected to act to some extent " in loco parentis " during school hours – that is, to take on some of the role of a parent, though exactly what that means is open to debate, and indeed varies widely according to which part of the world you live in – but sometimes teachers feel that their role has been extended far beyond education and into areas that are closer to the role of a nanny or au pair. Urban's article, though concerned with IT issues rather than the pastoral side of education, asks, rather pertinently, " Has the web become a nanny for Irish parents? "

ESET Ireland commissioned a survey from Amárach Research, to find out how Irish parents supervise their kids’ activities online. It may not surprise you that 73% out of a sample population of over 1000 parents said that they don't supervise their children's access to the web. However, you might be surprised to see