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Parents take an active interest in children's Internet use
Wednesday 14 October 2009 13:10:58 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Today is the Internet Watch Foundation's "Awareness Day" designed to help promote awareness of the IWF's work in protecting children by helping to eradicate child abuse images as well as raising awareness of the dangers the Internet can pose, and most importantly, how you as parents can protect your children whilst ensuring that they can benefit from everything the Internet has to provide.

Last week, we carried out a survey of over 400 parents visiting our site which has provided some interesting statistics. Our concern was that we would see parents relying on technology to police their children's use, rather than taking an active role in educating and supervising them personally. At least, out of thinkbroadband visitors, most parents appear to understand the problems very well.

We asked parents to tell us the age of their youngest child who uses the Internet regularly, what they used as their primary method of protecting their child on the Internet, and finally what most concerned them about their children's use of the Internet.

Key findings

  • Parents’ main concerns about their children surfing online is finding inappropriate content (37%), followed by giving away personal details (20%) with inappropriate contact with adults in third place (18%).
  • Most parents personally supervise younger kids; as they grow older this is mostly replaced by educating them on the dangers.
  • Use of parental control software is most common in the 8-9 year old group but is significant until children reach 16 years old.
  • Parents do not in general use or rely on service providers’ filtering services as their primary line of deference.
  • The greatest concern for parents of younger children is them finding inappropriate content online. This starts to reduce significantly when their kids reach the age of 12 when parents are more concerned about their children giving away personal details on the Internet--this is likely to be due to increased use of social networking sites.
  • Concerns over illegal downloading (such as obtaining music without paying or otherwise obtaining a license for it) is insignificant until the teens, although it is only a primary concern for 13% of parents in the 16-17 age group when it becomes strongest.
  • Online bullying was of most concern to parents of 10-13 year olds although it was the most important concern to only 7-8% of parents in that category.
Chart illustrating primary way parents protect kids on the Internet
(click chart to view full size version)

Graph showing parents' worries about safety of their children on the Internet
(click chart to view full size version)

This very quick survey indicates that parents visiting this site "get the internet" and understand how to best give their children the skills necessary to tackle difficult situations. Focussing on supervising Internet use as well as an open dialogue is the most effective way to  keep your kids safe, not relying on technology alone. We should stress however, that parental control software does play an important part in filling the gaps.

We have published a more detailed guide to help parents protect their kids online.


Posted by CARPETBURN over 7 years ago
Interesting results and another great survey by thinkbroadband :)
Posted by otester over 7 years ago
Education should play a larger role more early on, I was 9 when I got the net (uncensored).

And I turned out ok?
Posted by shaunhw over 7 years ago
Child protection, although very laudable, is often used as an excuse by those who want to CENSOR what adults are free to watch. All the censors have been guilty of this at some time or other. Parents should be diligent in monitoring what their kids do online, and not expect the nanny state to do it for them. My kids have been online for years now, and are now 15 and 18, and they have no problems at all.
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