Research by online security firm AVG Technologies has shown that more than a third (35%) of children in the UK have come across dangers such as bullying and unsuitable content online. The proportion increases to 40% of teenagers. Yet parents appear to be ignoring the problem.
One in eight (12%) children has come across unsuitable or disturbing content online and six per cent have accessed adult content deliberately. Another 11% encountered bullying online and eight per cent met or chatted with strangers online.
Despite this, a quarter of all parents (24%) said they’re not planning to educate their children about online risks, increasing to 39% of parents with 10- to 12-year-olds and 62% with 13- to 16-year-olds.
So why are parents failing to safeguard their children online? Two in five parents (44%) believe their child is sensible enough to know what to avoid on the internet. A further 22% thought it was too awkward to discuss and 14% think it is unnecessary.
Most parents (88%) think that their child’s digital habits are mainly influenced by people outside the home such as school friends and teachers, and 26% said their children are also influenced by friends from outside school.
But with 40% of parents most concerned about their child’s online safety while they’re outside the home, parents are “too quick to shift the blame” onto outside influences rather than shouldering it themselves, said the report.
AVG spokesman Tony Anscombe said kids may be tech-savvy but they’re still children, after all. “Children look to parents for guidance, and in turn, it is their responsibility to teach them good from bad,” he commented.
Parents must educate themselves and their children about online dangers, he continued. “By assuming children know best, simply because they have grown up around technology, parents are opening up their children to online dangers – and a significant amount are falling victim to them in some form.”