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UK parents concerned they are losing control of their kids online

UK parents concerned they are losing control of their kids online

Parents in the UK are becoming increasingly worried about the amount of time teens are spending online and admit to having little idea of what their kids are doing when they log on, according to a recent survey from Trend Micro.

The security firm reveals that despite more than 50 per cent of parents claiming not to have a clue about what’s going on in their teens’ digital world with only three per cent of them actually monitoring their kids’ online behaviour.

The survey follows a recent report into kids and the internet that revealed 72 per cent of parents were concerned for their kids’ welfare as usage of the internet via mobile phones increased 25 per cent over the past year.

Furthermore, 58 per cent of internet users agree that barring certain websites and content by age would be an effective step towards making internet content safer for children.  

The Trend Micro study, which polled 1,000 teens and parents across the UK, also revealed that parents fear their kids are no longer using the internet to learn.
Fifty-five per cent of parents said they wish their kids would spend more time learning than on social networks.

Unsurprisingly, nearly three quarters of those surveyed said they were worried that under-18s would lose essential face-to-face and English language skills as a result.

This comes at a time when text and social network-speak is the norm amongst Generation Y.

While it has been debated that big companies are resorting to sophisticated and energetic marketing techniques to capture the attention of children, which is now a £99 billion industry, a report from the Advertising Association called ‘Children’s wellbeing in a commercial world’, found that aspects of the online world actually enhance the wellbeing of children.

But, children are an easy target for marketers these days as they spend so much of their day online or in front of the television. Children are spending twice as much time in front of a TV or computer screen as in the classroom.

While the majority of parents do have these concerns, they don’t wish to – or don’t know how to - enforce controls on their kids with 97 per cent admitting they still continue to leave their kids in an uncontrolled environment.

Will Gardner, chief executive of Childnet, said, “The best way for a parent to overcome their fears about technology and what their children are up to online is to take the time to have a look at the technology their children are using. Better still, get them to guide you through it. A conversation on how to keep safe and look after others online is a must."

Rik Ferguson, security expert at Trend Micro, added, “Social interaction online is evolving at a constant and rapid rate and the digital generation know all the tricks of the trade. With the summer holidays fast approaching, parents should put simple but effective measures in place to ensure their kids do not fall victim to unnecessary dangers. Parents need to become more tech savvy first before they can start educating their kids on what’s right and wrong.”

Top tips for protecting your kids online:

• Keep all computers in common areas.
• Agree to time limits for using the Internet and all social devices.
• Keep software security up-to-date.
• Talk with your kids about entering personal information online.
• Run a manual scan with your software security and check browser history.
• Set profiles on social networking sites to private.
• Encourage children to be respectful of others.
• Teach children to have multiple passwords that are NOT associated with names, nicknames or commonly found information over the net.
• Most importantly, keep informed about the latest outbreaks and dangers on the internet.

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