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Over Two-Thirds of Teens Cover Their Tracks Online to Hide Activity from Parents

Last Updated: April 10, 2015

Luke Gilkerson
Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Your Brain on Porn and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Last month, Microsoft Corporation released the results of a survey from 8,000 teens and parents about attitudes and behaviors concerning online safety.*

Here are some of the results:


  • 87% of parents have talked to their children about Internet safety issues.
  • 63% rate this online-safety discussion on par with talking to their children about “the birds and the bees.”
  • 65% of parents are confident that their children are taking necessary safety precautions with the information they are sharing online.
  • 44% are not certain about whether their children are restricting access to their social media sites.
  • 36% of parents do not monitor their children’s online activities at all.
  • 26% take no action to limit or control their children’s Internet use at home.
  • 64% of parents do not use online parental controls or filtering software.
  • 69% of parents say they take steps to ensure their children don’t stumble on any adult-related sites they have personally visited.

Teens (14-18 years old):

  • 67% of teens have cleared out their browser history or cache to make sure their parents couldn’t view their online activity. 31% do this “always” or “regularly.”
  • 39% of teens admit to looking at websites or playing online games that their parents would likely disapprove of.
  • 15% of teenagers allow all Internet users access to their information on social networks. 85% restrict access to only family and friends or use privacy settings to limit access in some way.
  • 15% of children admitted they had communicated something on a social network that was intended to be hurtful or intimidating to another person.
  • 44% have lied about their age when online.
  • 75% have been contacted by a stranger. 37% of those who have been contacted responded to that stranger. Only 4% told someone older that they trusted, 10% were scared by it, and 11% were worried.
  • 23% of teenagers would feel comfortable making friends with adults online.
  • 18% would feel comfortable revealing secrets online they would not ordinarily share.

Learn More and Take Action:

Over two-thirds of teens are trying to cover their Internet tracks from their parents, and over a third of parents do not monitor their child’s Internet activity at all. These statistics should highlight the importance of Internet accountability in the home.

John Mangelaars of Microsoft EMEA said parents know their teens are tech-savvy, but this often leads parents to believe their kids don’t need ongoing advice or guidance. “It is incredibly important parents stay actively involved, talking regularly with their kids and using the parental technology tools that are available to them.”

Internet accountability is about setting this expectation of openness and honesty in the home.

Learn about the dangers facing your kids online and the ways you establish accountability in the home in our free Web safety seminar.

* The survey was conducted in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Finland, South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Greece, and Egypt.
  • Comments on: Over Two-Thirds of Teens Cover Their Tracks Online to Hide Activity from Parents
    1. David

      Luke, has CE considered instant text alerts to accountability partners when visiting blocked sites? This would be so very helpful…a phone call (immediately in the heat of the battle) can do a world of good! Safe Eyes offers this feature, and I think it would be really effective for CE.

      • Shawn

        While that would be helpful, it wouldn’t help in the long run. Why not as soon as your tempted, you decide to text or call your buddy.

      • Luke Gilkerson

        @Shawn – Because I’m addressing the importance of Internet accountability in the home, I’m talking about modeling accountability as a lifestyle for your kids. Of course you should call on help when you are tempted. Accountability software is a great tool that trains us for this very mentality and discipline. This is why thousands of people use it in their home, to train them to do the very thing you are suggesting.

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