Revealed: 7 out of 10 teens want parents to set filters to protect them online

Two-thirds of children think parental controls are a ‘good idea’ and help protect them from adult content, according to a new survey by online safety organisation Internet Matters.

Majority of teens are in favour of parental controls

The findings, released today as part of this year’s Safer Internet Day, reveal 65% of young people aged 11-16 are in favour of the controls – which can be applied to apps and tech devices – while 69% think they’re in place to stop them viewing inappropriate adult content.

A third of kids thought they should be at least aged 15 before they go online without any restrictions while a quarter of youngsters (24%) surveyed think that parental controls and restrictions should only be taken away once they are over the age of 17 years.

Lack of use of parental controls among parents 

But additional research* found that despite the vast majority of parents being aware of controls  – only 4 in 10 parents are using them.

A survey of parents with kids aged 4-16 found that only 39% of parents set controls across their broadband or mobile network, just 35% of parents set controls on devices their children use at home and only 45% apply privacy settings to their child’s social media.

The figures come as together with our partners which include BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, EE, Google, the BBC and Huawei, mark Safer Internet Day 2018.

Supporting Safer Internet Day with Set Up Safe guides

The research was carried out ahead of the launch of our new step-by-step parental controls and privacy guides to make it easier for parents to get their child’s device ‘Set Up Safe’. With a total of 75 guides, they cover a broad range of devices, networks, platforms and apps.

The Set Up Safe guides, available at, provide up-to-date information and simple step-by-step instructions to content filters and privacy settings on a range of devices, networks and platforms.

And for those parents who need more hands-on help, Internet Matters’ newest and first mobile partner EE will be opening up their doors to all parents across all their UK stores. They will be offering support to those who are struggling to get to grips with practicalities of parental controls and device settings, with simple hands-on advice.

Benefits of setting parental controls

Internet Matters CEO, Carolyn Bunting, said: “Technology can seem overwhelming and research has shown this is often the reason parents don’t apply parental controls.

“But setting age-appropriate controls can help protect children from potential risks online.

“Our new Set Up Safe guides are designed to show parents how to set parental controls, for a whole range of the most popular apps and devices, in a really clear and easy to follow way.

“As ever, it’s important parents remember this is just one of the tools in the online safety toolkit and parents need to ensure they are having regular, frank and open conversations with their child about their digital world to ensure they are staying safe online.“

Support from EE to help keep kids safe online

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer brands EE, BT and Plusnet said“We all know it can be tough for parents to stay on top of the latest apps, games and social networks that their children are using.

“As a parent, I know how important it is to address online safety with our children, and our partnership with Internet Matters means we can help provide practical advice to parents about online behaviour, safety and security. “We have also introduced new training for our staff in stores and contact centres to provide
better support for online safety topics to even more parents across the UK.”

The survey of kids found:

  • Over two thirds (66%) of young people think parental controls are used to stop them being contacted by strangers.
  • More than a third of teens (33%) think they should be able to go online aged 15-16 without any parental controls.

The survey of parents found:

  • 1 in 5 parents (19%) admit they don’t set parental controls as they are ‘too restrictive’
  • 1 in 10 parents (11%) admit they don’t set parental controls as ‘they’re too complicated’
  • 17% of parents say there’s ‘no point as children can get round them’
  • 13% claim it restricts their internet usage

Internet Matters Ambassador and psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos said: “It’s essential parents set-up age-appropriate parental controls on their child’s device to ensure they have a safe place to be online.

“Building online boundaries should be no different to any other life stage.

“Just like teaching a child to ride a bike, you slowly remove the training wheels and eventually let them go.

“Parental controls are the same – parents can lower the settings as their child matures to ensure they’re not exposed to content that is inappropriate to their age group.

“These easy-to-follow guides should help give parents the confidence to get to grips with their child’s technology and stay on top of what they’re doing online.”

Digital resilience Toolkit – Using parental controls and privacy settings
Resources document

Use our Set up Safe parental controls and privacy setting guides to create a safer online space for kids to explore.

See guides

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