Online harms are of growing concern for parents today, especially with national lockdowns increasing internet usage and screen time across the board. That said, a new poll has revealed that many have still not set up the internet restrictions that could help keep their children safe, despite the majority believing that the responsibility of implementing safeguarding measures lies on them.
The findings come from a Twitter poll conducted by Menlo Security earlier this month, drawing 10,447 responses. While almost three-quarters (72%) of the parents surveyed agreed that they are accountable for ensuring that the necessary internet safety measures are in place, just under two-thirds (63%) of those respondents said they had placed no restrictions on their child’s internet usage during lockdown.
Forty-three percent of parents claimed they had not taken safety precautions because they thought it wasn’t necessary, with 20% claiming they had not done so because they felt internet safeguarding was a matter too hard to control. This is despite respondents citing fears of their child’s increasing exposure to social media (40%), games (38%), video sharing sites (12%) and chat room apps (10%).
More than half (55%) of survey participants listed social media as the least trusted platforms their children could access, followed by gaming sites (19%), video sharing websites (17%) and streaming TV series (8%).
Recognising that the pandemic has increased time spent online, thus heightening parental fears surrounding internet threats, the cybersecurity firm launched the survey as part of an initiative to raise awareness of the issues and provide supporting resources. The poll revealed that parents are most concerned about the potential for their child to meet with strangers encountered online (50%), with cyberbullying (27%) coming in as the second greatest concern, followed by image sharing (16%) and compromised privacy (7%).
“We all need to be doing better in equipping our children to have the skills to navigate safely when online” – Nina Bual, educator and entrepreneur in cyber parenting best practices
Recent research has shown that website and app visits across the UK were up more than 100% in January this year compared to 12 months prior. Some parents have taken action to limit exposure to harmful content and experiences online, with 21% reducing internet time and 16% implementing parental controls. It’s worth noting, however, that software providers also have a key role to play in ensuring children’s safety, with 31% of respondents acknowledging the responsibility of developers. Twenty-four percent also believe that education tools are effective when it comes to internet security.
“The past 12 months have posed serious challenges to carers, educators and parents when it comes to keeping children safe online,” said Mike East, vice-president EMEA at Menlo Security. “Children have been spending an increased amount of time online using it to socialise and learn, potentially exposing them to more cyber risks than ever before.
“We believe that the internet should be a safe environment for everyone, especially children, and technology has an important part to play in this.”
Nina Bual, an educator and entrepreneur in cyber parenting best practices, who has partnered with Menlo Security on the creation of a cyber risk handbook, commented: “Parents spend an average of 46 minutes educating their children on cyber safety in their entire lifetime; couple this with the fact that an average child above the age of 13 spends seven hours per day online for leisure activity alone, it’s easy to see where the disparity and the concern lies. We all need to be doing better in equipping our children to have the skills to navigate safely when online.”