Teens lying more about online activity

You may think you know what your teenagers are up to on the internet – but the chances are you don’t.

A new survey from security company McAfee finds that seven out of ten are hiding their online behavior – despite almost half of parents believing that their teens tell them the truth about all they do.

Nearly three-quarters of parents say they trust their teens to not access age-inappropriate content online. However, 43 percent have accessed simulated violence online, 36 percent have accessed sexual topics, and 32 percent have accessed nude content or pornography online.

“While it is not necessarily surprising that teens are engaging in the same types of rebellious behaviors online that they exhibit offline, it is surprising how disconnected their parents are,” says Stanley Holditch, online safety expert at McAfee.

“This is a generation that is so comfortable with technology that they are surpassing their parents in understanding and getting away with behaviors that are putting their safety at risk.”

The nunmber of teens misleading their parents has increased dramatically over the last year. Seven out of ten say they’ve found ways to avoid parental monitoring, compared with just 45 percent on 2010.

Clearing the browser history is the top method to avoid detection, followed by simply closing the browser when a parent walks in, hiding IMs and videos and plain telling lies.

Other teens try to use mobile device or a computer that their parents won’t check; use privacy settings to make conntent viewable by friends only, or use private browising modes. Some create private email addresses or even fake social networking profiles.

“Parents need to get informed about their children’s online behavior,” says Robert Siciliano, McAfee online security expert.

“The fact is that allowing teens to participate in unmonitored online activity exposes them to real dangers with real consequences, and these dangers are growing exponentially with the proliferation of social networks.”