CUPERTINO, Calif. - June 9, 2003 - Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC), the world leader in Internet security, today announced that more than 80 percent of children surveyed who use email receive inappropriate spam on a daily basis. In addition, half of the kids surveyed reported feeling uncomfortable and offended when seeing improper email content. The survey, conducted online for Symantec by Applied Research, a full service market research firm, interviewed 1,000 youths between the ages of seven and 18. The survey measured young people's experience with spam as well as their concerns about receiving unsolicited email.
"As with any email user, kids are just as susceptible as adults to being bombarded by spam advertising inappropriate products and services, such as Viagra and pornographic materials," said Steve Cullen, Senior Vice President, Consumer and Client Product Delivery at Symantec. "Parents need to educate their children about the dangers of spam and how they can avoid being exposed to offensive content or becoming innocent victims of online fraud."
When asked what kind of spam emails they have received, 80 percent of the respondents said they are bombarded by sweepstakes messages such as "win a Playstation," 62 percent have received relationship-related spam such as "meet singles online," 61 percent have seen finance-related spam offering cut-rate mortgages or homes for sale, 55 percent have read weight-loss messages such as "lose 15 pounds in two days," 51 percent have received pharmaceutical sales pitches such as "buy herbal Viagra online," and 47 percent have received emails with links to X-rated Web sites. Most importantly, about one in every five kids (21 percent) open and read spam emails, especially the ones with a subject line that interest them (16 percent).
The survey also shows that youths feel uneasy when seeing inappropriate spam email content. Often times, they do not even communicate their negative feelings about spam with their parents. When asked what their reactions have been when they see improper email content, 51 percent of the respondents said that they have felt annoyed, 34 percent have felt uncomfortable, 23 percent have felt offended and 13 percent have felt curious. When they feel annoyed, uncomfortable, offended or curious after seeing unsuitable email content, 38 percent of the youths surveyed do not tell their parents.
Further evidence indicates that not every child has a clear understanding of spam. Although 89 percent of the kids surveyed responded that they have heard of spam, nearly one in three still do not know whether spam is good or bad for them. In addition, 22 percent of respondents said that their parents have never talked to them about spam.
The survey discloses that most of the youths surveyed have personal email accounts and more than half of these kids check email without their parents' guidance. The findings show that 76 percent of the kids studied have one or more email accounts. When asked how often they check emails, 72 percent of the respondents said a few times a week to a few times a day. When asked how important it is to always have mom or dad check emails with them, nearly one in three said it is not important, 21 percent said they don't care and 16 percent said they don't want their parents to check their emails with them. Furthermore, when asked whether they get parents' permission before giving out their personal email addresses to friends or even people and Web sites with which they are not familiar, 46 percent of the youths responded that they do not.
Results of the study also confirm that kids spend more time online during their summer vacation compared to during a regular school season. When asked the number of hours they use the Internet, 44 percent of youths said that they spend an average of more than two hours a day online on a summer day, compared to only 23 percent who said they spend as much time online on a school day. Of the youths who spend an average of more than two hours a day online during summer, 75 percent mainly use the Internet to send and receive emails.
Since kids will be spending more time online during their summer vacation, parents need to increase involvement and efforts in curtailing their children's exposure to spam emails. Responding to the research results, Symantec offers parents the following tips to help protect their children's online safety:
Symantec is the world leader in providing solutions to help individuals and enterprises assure the security, availability, and integrity of their information. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has operations in more than 40 countries. More information is available at www.symantec.com.
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