Levels of awareness and usage
We asked parents of children aged 4-16 about whether they were aware of different types of parental controls and if so, whether they used them. This data allows us to estimate which tools are being more or less used, and to understand where there is a drop off from awareness to actual usage.
Table 1 Awareness and Usage of parental control and online safety tools tested. Base: Parents N-2,000
In positive news, a large majority of parents (93%) are aware of at least one type of parental control. In fact, parents are aware of an average of three of the parental control types. However, our list referred to a total of seven different types of parental controls, and only 12% were aware of all of these, with an average of 1.7 parental controls or safety tools being used by parents out of the list of seven being tested. This suggests that there is more work to do to ensure that parents are aware of the full range of tools available to them in this space.
Moving on to usage, there is again a positive story in some respects: around 4 in 5 parents use at least parental control (81%). But that means that nearly one in five parents (19%) who are aware of controls do not make use of them, or only a minority of them.
Looking at which types of parental controls are most popular (figure 1 below), broadband parental controls have both the highest awareness levels (63% of parents are aware of them) and the highest usage levels (34%). More than half of parents are also aware of screentime management apps, gaming console controls and streaming and search safety settings, but less than a third of parents use them.
Figure 1. B22. Before today, were you aware of any of these types of technical tools or controls – whether or not you use them? B23. And do you use any of these types of technical tools or controls to manage your child’s access to online content? Base: Parents of children aged 4-16 N-2,000. W17 Parent Tracker.
The largest drop off from awareness to actual usage is seen amongst Safety software (e.g. Net Nanny, McAfee Family, Norton Family, Circle) from 37% of parents being aware and 15% usage (59% decrease). Perhaps in part due to the expense associated to setting these up compared to in-app/platform accessible safety features. Social media parental monitoring (e.g. Snapchat Family Centre, TikTok Family Pairing, Instagram parental supervision) also had a high drop off with a 54% decrease from 42% awareness and 19% usage. Below we go on to explore the reasons why parents aren’t setting up these tools.