Millions of children are missing out on crucial online safety training, according to new research commissioned by Internet security company ESET. 50 percent of those aged nine to 16 have had no formal internet safety teaching in school, while one in four parents admit they lack the confidence to initiate the conversation, believing their child has a better grasp of online security.
Instead, three quarters of parents choose to monitor online activity at a distance, 23 percent without their child knowing. However, the report exposes a disparity between the actions of under 16 year olds and what parents actually see, with children using shrewd tactics to hide their activity – 40 percent of children confessed to clearing their browsing history to keep it hidden; almost a third have created online accounts that parents don’t know about. Plus, half of children have lied about their age to access a website.
The need for parental monitoring is completely disregarded among nine to 16 year olds, with 84 percent believing they should be able to browse independently – including 70 percent of those aged just nine years.
Technical Director of ESET UK, Mark James, said: “Online safety is the modern day ‘birds and bees’ conversation; it evokes dread and nervousness in parents who feel ill-prepared to teach their child the dos and don’ts of the online world. The research shows that two thirds of parents believe it’s primarily their role to educate children about Internet safety, above schools, the police or the Government, however their own online behaviours are questionable.
“The Internet has brought a tremendous benefit to every aspect of daily life and we want to encourage people of all ages to engage, explore, learn and experience the value it can bring – however education is fundamental to keep everyone armed with the knowledge of how to browse safely.”
In response to this, ESET has launched the UK’s first awards scheme to recognise individuals and organisations across the UK that are leading initiatives to educate others about Internet safety. Named the CyberSmart Awards, the scheme is supported by the UK Safer Internet Centre – the organisation behind Safer Internet Day on February 5.
Head of the UK Safer Internet Centre, David Wright, said, “Just like the real world, the online environment is constantly changing – there are new and evolving platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and Google+, and different ways of accessing the Internet, through phones and tablet devices. It creates a complex landscape that is challenging to navigate safely. That’s why sharing best practises is more important than ever before.”