UK parents are struggling to protect their children from inappropriate online content, a new survey has suggested.
The survey, conducted by security specialist Bullguard, found that out of 2,000 parents of seven to 14-year-olds, one in seven said they had found unsuitable content on their child’s smartphone or tablet.
83 per cent of parents believed that the responsibility to protect their children lies with them, with the average British child receiving their own mobile phone at the age of eight.
The number one concern among parents regarding online dangers was the possibility of children talking to complete strangers online, with the chance of them being bullied, becoming distracted from schoolwork and becoming too absorbed by online activities also high on the list.
Over a third (36 per cent) of parents expressed their belief that their child gets together with friends to search for inappropriate terms or images, with one in five (18 per cent) blaming the accessing of inappropriate content on children searching for things they don’t understand.
Based on this figure, almost three quarters (72 per cent) of parents said that they would prefer that a child talk directly to them rather than search online for answers, with one in ten admitting that they would rather their kids seek advice online to save them from having to answer potentially awkward questions.
Just over half (54 per cent) of parents said that they speak regularly to their children about the potential dangers of the internet, but 70 per cent admitted that it was difficult to stay ahead of the curve on online risks. 22 per cent of parents said that they had conducted a serious conversation with their child following the discovery of inappropriate content on a device.
“The research shows that while many parents appreciate that children are naturally curious, they are also concerned about the potential dangers that exist online and the likelihood of their child experiencing unsuitable and inappropriate content,” said Cam Le, CMO at BullGuard.
“As children grow older it becomes commonplace for them to want to search for terms they hear in the playground or used by adults, or to visit the same sorts of websites as their friends, which can make it very difficult for parents to keep a constant eye on what’s going on.”
43 per cent of parents admitted to checking their child’s internet history, with 14 per cent checking who their child is friends with on social networking sites and a third (33 per cent) saying they rarely or never bother to check what websites their children visit.
“We’re all busy people, and it’s not easy to keep abreast of everything your child does online,” added Le.
“The internet offers a wealth of genuinely useful, interesting and educational content that can be of great benefit to our children, so it’s important that they have access to this in a safe and secure environment.”
Image of kids with laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.co.uk