Parents fail to monitor their children’s use of the internet

In advance of the Internet Watch Foundation’s Awareness Day (on 14th October 2009), has surveyed over 400 parents in the UK about their main concerns with children browsing the Internet. The new survey has revealed that almost a third of parents’ worry that their children will be exposed to inappropriate content online (37 per cent). Despite these findings, 18 per cent of parents rely primarily on parental control software, rather than overseeing and regulating their children’s Internet use themselves.

The survey also reveals other concerns such as children giving away personal details (20 per cent), and coming into inappropriate contact with adults (18 per cent). As a result, most of the parents surveyed preferred to personally supervise their younger children, and as they grow older, will replace this with educating them about the potential risks of using the Internet.

Sebastien Lahtinen, founder of comments “This survey highlights that most parents understand that the key is to talk to their children and educate them on how best to tackle possible online dangers. They are not simply relying on technology to do the job for them.

These statistics are reassuring, following Dr. Tanya Byron’s recommendation to the Government, which was also covered in the Digital Britain Report, that adults need more information and education on the dangers that children are facing on the Internet so they can better equip their children with ‘digital skills’. It shows that parents are actively looking for suitable information to advise their own children on Internet safety.” has produced a consumer guide for parents on how to protect children online which include five key tips on keeping your children safe online:

1. Talk to your children about their Internet use; educate them on how to use the Internet safely. In particular, make sure they know they can always talk to you if they have any concerns or questions.

2. Keep an eye on them; locate the computer in the living room or another shared area, particularly when your kids are young.

3. Parental control software should be an additional tool but not a replacement for education or supervision. This software is particularly good for younger children to prevent them unwittingly viewing inappropriate content. Most older kids are likely to find their way around these restrictions.

4. You can use parental control features built into the PC; for example Microsoft Windows Vista and the web browser which doesn’t require you to buy any additional software to provide some ‘basic’ support. Don’t forget, it’s not just about protecting them from harmful content, but also to ensure they don’t damage the software on the computer. Additional specialist software with more features such as NetNanny cost around £30.

5. Children with their own mobile phones may be able to bypass any filtering you put in place. Although mobile operators do provide some protection, this is not fool-proof so you must be aware of this.

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