A majority of adults, 80 percent, feels the Internet is an unsafe place for children and youth, according to a new survey released by the Israel Internet Association.
ISOC-IL, a non-profit membership organization, promotes the use of Internet for research, communication and collaboration, and serves as a chapter of the world Internet Society.
The survey, released ahead of international Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, attempted to examine the scope of damage or injury derived from surfing the web.
According to the survey, adults believe the main threats to children and youth online include exposure to pornographic content and sexual harassment as well as boycotts, verbal bullying and exposure to violence.
Sixty-five percent of parents attested to the fact that they oversee or are aware of their child’s activities online to a great extent or more – 72% of mothers and 58% of fathers.
Furthermore, 63% of parents believe they have the necessary tools and knowledge to protect their children from Internet harassment and bullying – 70% of fathers and 55% of mothers.
Meital Schwartz of the Israel Internet Association, who initiated the survey said: “There are incredible things on the Internet. We cannot imagine our lives today without the Internet.
However, the rise in the extent of injuries, and especially their exposure to the media, has resulted in increased awareness to the side effects of this growing network and we have seen this reflected in the results of the survey.
“I am very happy that parents understand the importance of these issues and call them to continue to increase their presence and involvement in all aspects of their children’s online browsing behavior,” she said.
The survey also examined the extent to which adults and parents use the Internet and their feelings of security online.
A majority of adults, 86% use Facebook while 52% of adults said they have a google+ account, 26% uses Instagram and 17% have a twitter account.
The findings indicated that only 40% of adults felt safe using the Internet. Men felt slightly safer (44%) than women (37%).
Nearly a third (32%) of adults said they had encountered an incidence of bullying against a person on Facebook in the last year.
In addition, 32% of adults said they know someone whose personal account was hacked, 17% of adults were familiar with someone who had encountered threats and/or experienced verbal abuse online, and 12% of adults know someone whose images were distributed without permission.
Only 8% of adults revealed familiarity with someone who has experienced sexual harassment via the web.
The survey participants were asked to divulge how they act when they encounter offensive content on the web, 36% said they report the inappropriate content to the manager of the site or social network while 33% said they ignore the content entirely. Seven percent said they handle it themselves by contacting the person responsible and 8% report offensive content to the authorities.
“The Association continues with its persistent activities to encourage wise use of the Internet and social networks, and assists and supports victims of the side effects of the network. The Center for Internet Safety is available to all public inquiries and will provide assistance and guidance in the event of damage on the web and how to surf the Internet without worry,” said Schwartz.
A sample of 506 adults were surveyed February 4-5, 2014, through an online questionnaire run by Zeta Tools. The results reflect a 3.8% margin of error.