Today’s parents are net naive

New research reveals lack of urgency to safeguard Generation Z, despite one in three children encountering dangers online

As the third annual Child Internet Safety Summit commences, AVG Technologies has released new research revealing the extent of children’s exposure to inappropriate content online, and the conflicting views and concerns of their parents.

The findings reveal that more than a third (35%) of UK children have encountered dangers online while at home – a figure that rises to 40% among tech-savvy ‘tweens’.

Despite this reality, a quarter (24%) of all parents have no plans to educate their children about online risks – and this is particularly the case for those with older children, rising to one in four (39%) parents with 10-12 year olds, and two thirds (62%) of parents with 13-16 year olds. 

When asked why, two in five (44%) parents believe their child is sensible enough to know what to avoid online, 22% think it will just be too awkward to discuss, and one in seven (14%) simply don’t think it’s necessary.

“No matter how tech-savvy today’s children are, nor how ‘technophobic’ their parents think they are, it’s important not to forget that they are still just kids,” says Tony Anscombe, Senior Security Evangelist at AVG Technologies.

He adds: “As with any other life lessons, children look to parents for guidance; and in turn, it is their responsibility to teach them good from bad. The findings of this research prove exactly that. By assuming children know best, simply because they have grown up around technology, parents are opening up their children to online dangers – and a significant amount are falling victim to them in some form. It’s only through parents educating themselves and their children about these dangers that we’ll start to reduce the number of children exposed to inappropriate content online.”

The study also sheds light on where parents see their child’s digital habits being influenced. The vast majority (88%) say school friends and teachers play the biggest combined role, while over a quarter (26%) say friends from outside of school are also key influencers. 

With 40% of parents most concerned for their child’s online safety when they are away from home, these findings highlight how they could be overlooking the online dangers within the home. While parents are rightly conscious of letting their children surf the web outside of the family environment, the findings suggest they may be too quick to shift the blame, for children encountering dangers online, onto these outside influencers, rather than shoulder it themselves.