HOW CHILDREN ARE LEAVING THEIR PARENTS FOR ‘DIGITAL DUST’ IN THE ONLINE PLAYGROUND

Internet Matters today launches new research which shows how children are leaving their parents behind when it comes to knowledge and use of the internet.

The study highlights the challenges that parents face in keeping up with what their children are doing online, with 48% believing their children know more about the internet than they do and 73% of children agreeing.

The Internet Matters ‘Pace of Change’ report reinforces how the web plays a significant part in the lives of young people, with children going online typically for three hours a day - an hour longer than their parents. Meanwhile the average girl will spend four hours a day on their smartphone, compared to three hours for boys.

It also reveals parents are being left behind when it comes to the apps being used by their children. The proportion of children who use the two most popular apps - Snapchat and Instagram - is double the proportion of parents.

Children also use a much wider range of social media networks and apps.

Children regularly use an average of four social networks and apps, with 21% using apps that could be considered ‘risky’ for children.

One in three children hide what websites they have been visiting from their parents. One in three talk to people online who they have never met in real life. Nearly one in five have given out personal information like their full name, address and telephone number. One in five change the safety settings their parents have put on their social network accounts.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager of Internet Matters, said: “This shows how vital it is for parents to understand and be involved in their children’s digital lives and shows a real gap in what parents think their kids are up to and what they are actually doing.

“It’s so important parents have conversations and be involved with what their children are doing online so they are not left for digital dust.

“Our research shows that more than half of all parents and children acknowledge the internet may sometimes not be a safe place for kids, but a third of parents know about, but do not use parental controls on devices, home broadband and entertainment platforms. We’d encourage parents to take these steps too as they go along way to protecting their curiosity about the web.”

Carolyn added: “A question that often comes up is how easy it is to get around these parental controls. Encouragingly the Pace of Change report shows that the vast majority of children do not know how to get around parental controls, with less than one in 10 saying they do this regularly.”

Mum of two Lizi Patch reinforces how important it is to play a part in what children do online. Her son was left distressed after seeing a disturbing sex video aged 11 which was being shared around the school playground.

Lizi said: “It is incredibly important for parents to be involved in how their children use the Internet. My son was deeply affected by something he saw online on his mobile phone and ended up changing his phone settings to block out any future distressing content. We now have regular conversations.”

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