Parents just aren’t doing enough


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 14 Aug 2016

Most parents are worried sick about their child’s safety online yet the majority aren’t doing anything to protect their kids. And, those who have, still aren’t doing enough.

WE aren’t doing enough to protect our kids.

A whopping 95% of Malaysians worry about their child’s safety online, with over 60% of parents claiming that their children were cyber crime victims. Yet, less than half of those surveyed actually acted on those fears.

Parents here are grappling with their children facing cyber bullying, online predators and privacy concerns, but only 48% have actually done something, reveals Symantec Asia Pacific (Asia Consumer Business) director Choon Hong Chee.

The measures taken range from basic steps like only allowing Internet access with parental supervision and checking browser history, to more savvy actions like installing trackers on their kids’ devices.

Protecting children online, he says, is weighing heavier on parents now more than ever before.

On June 14, The Star reported that mobile chat apps like WeChat and BeeTalk are the main tools for sex predators in Malaysia, based on Bukit Aman’s statistics. Since 2015, a whopping 80% of reported rape cases involved sex predators who started out online. And, in June, British paedophile Richard Huckle was given 22 life sentences by a London court for abusing 23 Malaysian and Cambodian babies and children for almost a decade.

Parents, Choon says, are afraid that their children will give out too much personal information online or are being lured into meeting strangers or get involved in illegal activities like hacking.

It’s the same in Indonesia, he says, with 98% of parents there sharing the same fears as their Malaysian counterparts. In Indonesia, 73% say their child has already experienced online crime, he adds, referring to the recent Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report.

Released on May 31, the global report surveyed 21,302 mobile device users aged 18 and above, including 1,000 Malaysian participants.

Nearly all parents surveyed worry about their children’s safety online and in particular, how their actions would have repercussions on the family, Choon says.

Social media has become a weapon for cybercriminals to find and exploit their potential victims, he points out, advising parents to take proactive measures to teach their children online etiquette as more young Malaysians adapt to the fast-evolving digital world.

In Singapore, children are seen as a source of vulnerability. Nearly three in 10 parents’ online security have been compromised by their children’s actions, he says.

“Children are becoming increasingly comfortable with smartphones and tablets so parents must be proactive in educating their children on online safety.

Interview with Symantec Asia Pacific Pte Ltd Asia Consumer Business director, Chee Choon Hong. AZMAN GHANI / The Star
Social media has become a weapon for cybercriminals to find and exploit their potential victims. - Symantec Asia Pacific (Asia Consumer Business) director Choon Hong Chee.

“There are many chat apps that scan a place and identify strangers nearby you can meet up with. It’s dangerous. As a parent, strangers targetting kids is my biggest fear. Education on online safety must start when you hand your kids their first device and that could be as young as three.”

Most parents, when interviewed, say they were at a lost on how to protect their children online, saying they were struggling to understand the Internet world themselves.


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