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Parents lack bandwidth to monitor kids' online activity, says study

A McAfee study suggests parents have largely given up on policing what their kids are doing on laptops, phones, Facebook, and YouTube. And that password you're using to limit access? Junior knows it.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When the world's most famous companies are run by boys who seem to have only slight familiarity with shaving, it's easy for grown-ups to give up.

Somehow, this newfangled digital world has created an entirely new species of human -- one that ultimately wants to eradicate all species that are currently thought of as human.

Who can even lift an eyebrow, therefore, at new research that suggests parents are largely clueless about their kids' activities on laptops, phones, Facebook, and all the other places to which kids choose to disappear?

A new study from McAfee, touchingly called Digital Deceptions, offers bald figures to describe the sense of loss felt by bald parents.

For example, almost 70 percent of "youth" say they successfully hide their online behavior from their parents.

More than half of kids aged 10-17 admit they have posted "risky" comments or pictures online.

While you wipe your brow at society's plummeting plight, allow me to give you this cold compress: 74 percent of parents cried uncle and declared they don't have the time or energy to snoop on their kids. They simply "hope for the best."

Facebook and the like seem to be areas where comedy friends tragedy.

Thirty-nine percent of parents say that they insert digital parental controls on their tweens. The kids, though, are tittering into their Twitter, as 92 percent of them claim they know what the parents' password is, so why are the olds bothering?

They might as well just go off to their swingers' parties. You think the kids don't know about that, Dad?

An additional touch of humor is engendered when the survey explains that 60 percent of the parents who set the controls truly, truly believe that the kids don't know the password.

Should you wish to be further uplifted by this survey, may I tell you that 85 percent of 10- to 12-year-olds admitted they were already on Facebook -- despite the alleged age minimum being 13.

So many of the numbers presented offer a fascinating view of modern family relations that I suggest all parents download the survey and discuss it at their leisure with the local private detective.

I will leave you, though, with just one more set of digital amusements: 57 percent of 13- to 23-year-olds say they search the Web for elements of a sexual nature.

Only 13 percent of parents believe this is the case.

Of course, it could be that the kids are showing mere bravado, lying to save face, puffing out their chests to show how big they are.

More likely, though, the parents are burying their noses into a feisty pinot noir and praying that everything will be OK.

What else are you going to do?