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Two Thirds of Parents Fail to Discuss Online Safety with Children

Posted Apr 01 2010 12:00am
Parental paranoia causing ‘Net Neglect’ says CA research

  • One in three parents prefer their child or teenager to surf the net rather than go out
  • 63%  admit to never discussing online safety with their child or teenager
  • 52% have not set up any internet parental controls to protect children online
  • Social networking on popular sites like Facebook poses a huge risk to young people
  • DITTON PARK, UK, April 01 2010 – New research from software company CA, Inc. (NASDAQ: CA) reveals that despite one in three UK parents preferring their child or teenager to surf the net at home rather than go out, 63% have never discussed online safety with them.  The study also showed that more than 50% of parents have not set up any internet security controls to protect their children from online threats. 

    Commenting on the research, Joseph Souren, vice president EMEA, CA Internet Security Business Unit, said: “The findings are worrying because they suggest that the message of internet safety is not getting through to the majority of UK parents, causing so called ‘Net Neglect’.”

    Surfing the net has fast become the preferred method of play and socialising for young people, but recent high profile examples have highlighted what can happen when children are not aware of online risks.  Parent, Sarah White, knows only too well the dangers of leaving a computer without parental controls, after her nine year old daughter accessed inappropriate adult content whilst searching for something completely innocent online. The experience left her daughter shocked and distraught, prompting Sarah to take immediate action. 

    She comments: "I was horrified when I saw what my daughter had been exposed to. Although I’d heard the stories of what can happen, it just never occurred to me that this could happen to my child. The experience left a negative psychological effect on my daughter which has been a real wake-up call for me. Now I don’t take any chances when it comes to my children accessing the internet, giving both myself and my children peace of mind.” 

    Further points from the research include:

    • 18-24 year old parents are the most unsecure group with 61 percent having no parental control software on any of their home computers, including games consoles

    • Mums are more internet safety savvy with 46 percent of mothers having parental control software installed, compared to 39 per cent of fathers

    • 74 per cent of parents with three children have discussed online safety with their children, compared to 46% with just one child – indicating that online safety is more of a priority amongst parents with more than one child

    • Welsh parents are the least likely to discuss online safety with their child at 41 per cent, with parents in the Midlands most likely at 61 per cent

    • Parents in the North are more concerned with educating their child in online safety at 60 per cent, compared to 53 per cent in the South

    Joseph Souren continued: “Our study highlights that parents are so paranoid about modern outdoor dangers that they are ignoring the threats to their children’s safety indoors. Just because a child or teenager is at home, even if they are just in the next room or if you can see them, it does not necessarily mean that they are safe.  Online threats are very real and are increasing all the time as attackers become more cunning in their approach. Sadly we’ve recently witnessed the dangers faced by children online, but with parental control software and some careful supervision, parents can help to keep their children safe, protected and happy online.”

    In a separate CA study (based in the United States) it was revealed that more than 50 percent of children had been confronted by strangers online.  Findings from CA ISBU’s Internet Security Report showed that social networking sites like Facebook, blogs and other online communities popular amongst under 16 year olds; to be a key target for attackers looking to exploit vulnerable users - highlighting the increasing importance for parents to put in measures to provide for their child’s online safety.

    Current research shows that online child grooming by strangers and other dangerous threats, have more than doubled since 2007[1]. With internet attacks more prevalent than ever before, CA is urging parents to make sure that their children are protected by installing adequate internet security software

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