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The internet is permeating every aspect of our lives and we’re increasingly expected to build and maintain an “online presence” from day one – causing new and unexpected challenges, not faced by previous generations, for young people and parents alike.

This is the conclusion of a new report by 1Password and Malwarebytes, which revealed a complex generational gap around privacy, security and what constitutes healthy online parental oversight.

The research, which surveyed 1,000 Gen Zers and 1,000 parents, found that at best, many parents are unsure of how to help their kids protect themselves online; and at worst, they are inadvertently exposing their children to security risks. A majority of Gen Z (70%) report that their parents taught them about password security in some way, including problematic security advice like: using the same password for everything (17%) and making easy-to-remember passwords (30%).

Image source: 1Password.

And parents might not be setting a good example with their own behavior: 69% of parents feel they have excellent online safety and privacy habits, but only 47% of Gen Z agree with that statement about their parents.

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The survey also found clashing expectations around privacy, with 73% of Gen Z wanting their parents to ask permission before posting pictures about them online at least some of the time, but only 34% of parents agreeing with that approach. What’s worse, parents can also unknowingly create risks for their kids when they post about them, with 1 in 10 (11%) of Gen Zers saying they’ve been stalked or bullied because of something they or their parents posted online.

These complex dynamics reveal the dire need for parents and kids to proactively seek out ways to educate themselves about how to stay safe online. According to Jason Kelley, Associate Director of Digital Strategy and Activism at Electronic Frontier Foundation, who stated in the report: “Parents shouldn’t miss out on their chance to play an essential role in educating their children about best practices online. The best way to start is to educate themselves, and then to model that behavior so that they can lead the way. Of course, parents often have a lot to learn from their children, as well, and it’s important for parents to understand the unique threats their kids are facing and to incorporate that knowledge into their own practices.”

Read the full report from 1Password and Malwarebytes.

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