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Symantec Survey Finds Kids Outsmart Parents When it Comes to the Internet

Nearly a Quarter of Kids Surveyed Report They Do Things Online Their Parents Would Not Condone

CUPERTINO, Calif. – August 9, 2007 – Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC), the leader in Internet security, today announced results from a Symantec poll conducted by Harris Interactive® that revealed a significant digital divide between parents and their cyber-savvy children. According to the June 2007 poll, parents of children who access the Internet think their child is online six hours a week, on average, but children admit to spending an average of 11.4 hours online a week, and nearly a quarter (23 percent) of children report doing things online that their parents would not condone.

These startling statistics were used as the basis for Symantec’s first-ever Norton Connected and Protected Town Hall, which was held in partnership with Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson, whose personal platform is protecting children online, and Giant Campus’ Cybercamps, the nationally-recognized leader in technology summer camps for youth. During the August 2 Town Hall in New York City, more than 75 youth and parents participated in interactive discussions on Internet safety lead by Symantec’s Internet Safety Advocate Marian Merritt. The Town Hall explored the role the Internet and other technologies play in children’s personal, school and family lives, as well as encouraged kids and parents to keep an open dialogue about cyber safety, cyber security and cyber ethics.

While parents have much to learn about what their kids are doing online, Internet safety is a top concern for them. According to the June 2007 Symantec poll, nearly nine in ten parents (88 percent) express concern about keeping their child safe when he/she is online and about three in four (76 percent) are specifically concerned about their child being approached with inappropriate content or solicitations online. As part of the same poll, youth reported the following:

  • Twenty-one percent of children have reported having an experience with inappropriate material via the Internet that made them feel uncomfortable
  • Nineteen percent of children have had an experience with cyberbullying or cyber pranks (such as receiving messages, images or videos intended as a joke or prank)
  • Twenty-three percent of children have had an encounter with a stranger on the Internet, including seven percent of children who reported having met someone in the real world from the Internet
  • Twenty percent of children wish their parents were more interested in using the Internet

Parents Unaware of Their Kids’ Activities on Social Networking Sites

While nearly half of the Town Hall participants reported having a social networking site, Symantec learned that many had not thought about the consequences of posting personal information on sites such as MySpace, Facebook or Friendster. During a review of a faux social network site, youth discussed what content was appropriate to share privately and publicly, including the types of information to keep private.

“I wasn’t aware kids were posting their entire profiles online,” said Bill, father of two young boys who attended the Norton Connected and Protected Town Hall. “Including their name, location, photos and contact information.”

“We know children, and particularly teens, are engaging in online activities their parents would be shocked to learn about,” said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate for Symantec. “Through Symantec’s Norton Connected and Protect Family Safety Initiative, we hope to educate parents about the reality of what their kids are doing online, foster communication between kids and parents, and give families the knowledge and tools they need to stay safe online.”

“Kids today have never known a world without the Internet and interacting with their peers via social networks is common practice,” said Pete Findley, Chief Executive Office at Giant Campus, creator of Cybercamps. “Unfortunately, without parents who are knowledgeable about the Internet and actively involved with what their children are doing online, kids could learn of the dangers of the Web through a damaging experience.”

Real-life Run-in with Potential Cyber-predators

Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson co-hosted Town Hall discussions on cyber-predators. Nelson personally knows the threats the Internet can pose. When Nelson was 13, she and her friends gave their name, age and location to someone online who was later discovered to be a sexual predator. Today, Nelson works with Symantec and the company’s Norton Connected and Protected Family Safety Initiative to educate children about the dangers of the Internet as part of her year of service with the Miss America Organization.

“Protecting children from the dangers of the Internet is a personal issue for me,” said Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson. “After hearing the stories of the teens who participated in our Town Hall, I am even more committed to bringing national attention to this issue and getting people talking about ways to educate and protect our children online.”

Playground Bullying Goes High-Tech

Cyberbullying was ranked among the top concerns of parents participating in the Town Hall, and many were unaware of the recent trend of playground bullying going high tech.

“Parents frequently tell us they don’t know how to talk to their children about Internet safety, or that they feel intimated by technology,” said Marian Merritt, Internet Safety Advocate for Symantec. “The reality is that in many cases, kids actually know more about technology than their parents – the kids are the IT director of the household. Through discussions like this Town Hall, Symantec is working to level the playing field in Internet safety by educating both parents and children.”

Parents can visit the Norton Family Resource Center Web site ( for helpful tips on how they can keep their kids safe online and foster communication with their kids about their online activities. The Web site also includes more information on the Norton Connected and Protected Family Safety Initiative. At this site, consumers can also request the free Family Online Safety Guide, a comprehensive booklet with practical tips, solutions and resources for keeping families safe online, written by Marian Merritt, with a foreward by Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson.

Editor’s Note:

Video and still photography from the “Connected and Protected” Town Hall is available to accompany your broadcast, print and online stories. Teens who participated in today’s event may also be interviewed. The complete Harris Interactive survey is also available to press. To request additional information, please contact Julie Mathis at CarryOn Communication at 323-988-4700 or

About Symantec

Symantec is a global leader in infrastructure software, enabling businesses and consumers to have confidence in a connected world. The company helps customers protect their infrastructure, information and interactions by delivering software and services that address risks to security, availability, compliance and performance. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in 40 countries. More information is available at

About the Miss America Organization

The Miss America Organization is one of the nation's leading achievement programs and the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. For more information, go to

About Giant Campus

For more than a decade, Giant Campus has combined serious fun with technology education and been considered a national leader in the industry. Independent research of Giant Campus' teaching methods and curriculum show up to a 90 percent increase in standardized test scores for students. While youth attend Giant Campus' fun programs, they learn skills that help them in school and future careers. With more than one million hours of instruction with youth, Giant Campus programs continue to deliver what teens and parents want. Giant Campus can be found online at

Symantec Child Internet Safety Poll: Survey Methodology

Adult Survey:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Symantec between June 11 and June 13, 2007 among 2,246 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for region, age within gender, education, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

With a pure probability sample of 2,246, one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. Sampling error for data based on the sub-samples of parents/legal guardians of children under 18 (n= 464), parents/legal guardians of children under 18 who access the Internet (n= 321), and parents/legal guardians of children under 18 who access the Internet at home (n= 305) may be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Youth Survey:
The Harris Interactive YouthQuerySM omnibus was conducted online within the United States between June 13 and June 21, 2007 among a nationwide cross section of 1,107 youth ages 8-17. Figures for age, sex, race, education, parents’ education, region and urbanicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

In theory, with a probability sample of this size, one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. teen population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online sample was not a probability sample.

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