Concern as parents admit they’re not regularly talking to kids about online safety

Internet Matters today urges parents to speak to their kids about their digital life as often as they do their school life, as new research shows one out of six (16%) never or only rarely talk to their children about online safety issues.

  • New research reveals how one out of six (16%) parents never or very rarely talk to their children about online safety issues.
  • Child psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos urges parents to speak to their kids about their digital life just as much as they do in their school life.
  • Internet Matters has updated age-appropriate resources to provide the latest advice on how to have the right conversations with children depending on how old they are

The research of over 2,000 UK parents has found some children as young as four are experiencing online harm, with many online issues increasing steadily as they get older.

Around six out of 10 parents admit they are concerned about issues including online grooming (58%), viewing sexual or violent content (58%), and spending too much time online (68%).

Yet in the last six months alone, only a third of those parents have had any kind of conversation with them about it. And the majority of parents (55%) admit they speak to their children less than once a month about the most pressing issues they face online.

As a result, Internet Matters today launches updated age-appropriate resources to help parents have the right conversations with their kids about their online life at the right time.

They include everything from managing screen time, setting boundaries, and dealing with online issues such as cyberbullying and inappropriate content, to guidance on age-appropriate digital activities.

The resources make the point that children are never too young or too old to have a conversation about their digital world.

In the research, parents of children aged between four and 16 were asked when the last time they had spoken to their eldest child about online safety and the reasons why they hadn’t.

Of those who have never or rarely (longer than six months ago) had conversations, nearly a third (30%) believed their kids were too young to discuss it, and 21% think their child knows all there is to stay safe online. 20% said they have had some conversations about it in the past and don’t see the need to have more.

Child psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador, Dr. Linda Papadopoulos, said: “Many parents find navigating conversations about online safety with their kids challenging – especially as they enter adolescence.

“We know this is the age where they start to get more autonomy in their lives and for some, it’s when they get their own connected devices. However, this is also the age where they are most at risk from issues around online bullying, pornography, and body image.

“That’s why it’s important online safety conversations are not a one-off – parents should get in the habit of discussing what goes on in their digital life with them just like they would their school life. This way they will have an open dialogue with their kids so they can establish positive behavior and kids will feel empowered to come and speak with them if something goes wrong.”

Carolyn Bunting, Internet Matters CEO, said: “The research shows that whilst parents are concerned about online safety issues, they aren’t all having regular conversations with their child about it.

“These conversations don’t always have to be serious or heavy – they can just as easily be had in regular conversations at the dinner table. Being a part of their online life just how you would in their day-to-day life is important.

“Some parents feel they lack knowledge about their kids’ digital world and that’s why we’re pleased to be able to offer help and support through our updated age-appropriate resources. The new tools will give parents a good idea of what their child may be doing online at what age, so they know how to open up the right conversations with them at the right time.”

For more information on how to keep your child safe online and to visit the updated age guides head to www.internetmatters.org/advice

NOTES FOR EDITORS
About Internet Matters
Internet Matters (internetmatters.org) is a not-for-profit, industry-funded member body that helps families stay safe online, providing resources for parents, carers and educational professionals. It was established in 2014 by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media and its members include BBC, Google, Samsung, Facebook, Huawei, Barclays Digital Eagles, ByteDance, Supercell and ESET. It is a member of the Executive Board of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety), where it leads the working group for vulnerable users and was a member of The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, founded by the Duke of Cambridge. It works with partners from across the industry, government and third sector to raise awareness and provide advice on the issues affecting children in the digital age, including cyberbullying, screen time, digital resilience, extreme content, privacy and exploitation.
Media Contact for Internet Matters
Katie Louden
[email protected]
Mobile: 07850428214

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