Comcast commissioned a nationwide survey by Penn Schoen Berland of 1,610 individuals to assess the general knowledge, attitudes and behaviors among U.S. adults and teens regarding Internet safety. The survey revealed that although 95 percent of parents believe it is just as important to talk about online safety issues with their children as it is to talk about sex education and the risks associated with drugs and alcohol, only 65 percent have actually had that discussion.

In another disconnect, 65 percent of parents say online security and safety is most important to them compared to only 46 percent of surveyed teens. This suggests teens are underestimating or are not fully aware of some of the risks associated with their online activities.

Additional survey highlights include:

  • Across various Internet-connected devices, teens feel safer online compared to parents. Thirty-nine percent of teens feel their personal data is very safe and secure on a personal computer or a laptop compared to 25 percent of parents. For smart phones in particular, more than twice as many teens as parents believe their data is safe from hackers or cybercriminals.
  • Teens’ use of passwords is riskier than parents. Teens are much more likely to use the same password for every online account than are parents. Twenty-three percent of surveyed teens report that they use the same password for their online accounts compared to 14 percent of surveyed parents.
  • Roughly two-thirds of parents (66 percent) and teens (61 percent) believe they are in full control of what they post online and can take it down whenever they want. In fact, most parents and teens do not understand the reality that what goes online, stays online – and nearly three in 10 teens have posted something online that they later regretted.
  • Parents vary on the appropriate age for a child to start using the Internet. Thirty-six percent of parents surveyed believe the appropriate age for a child to start accessing the Internet is between the ages of 10 and 13; 35 percent of parents believe the appropriate age is between 6 and 9 and 12 percent of parents think a child 5 years old and under is the appropriate age to start using the Internet.
  • Parents are not aware of what their children are downloading on the Internet. Sixty-eight percent of teens surveyed say that they have downloaded a program or software without their parent’s permission. However, only 35 percent of parents surveyed believe that their children have ever downloaded a program or software without their permission.

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