From meeting strangers to online gaming, a recent study has found parents' most common technology fears
The rise of technology over the past few decades has thrown up many questions for parents when it comes to keeping their children safe. Platforms take off at unprecedented rates, and we’re all spending more time than ever before using screens – particularly during the pandemic. With all that at play, it’s only natural that we might experience some anxiety over how this culture will be impacting the next generation.
A new poll of more than 10,000 people, from Menlo Security, has revealed that 72% of respondents believed that parents should be responsible for their child’s security on the internet. But, despite this, 63% said that they had not yet placed any restrictions on their children’s use of the internet during lockdown.
Looking at the most common concerns that parents have, the poll found them to be:
- Meeting strangers
- Sharing images
- Loss of privacy
In the UK, the NSPCC estimates that 90 cybercrimes happen against children every day, and – in a period of nine months in 2020 – more than 25,300 child abuse images and sexual grooming offences were recorded by the police.
While organisations like the NSPCC are calling on the government and social media firms to action legislation to protect children and young people, Nina Bual – an educator and entrepreneur in cyber parenting best practices, who has collaborated with Menlo Security to create a free cybersecurity webinar – believes that the first step is for parents to take education into their own hands.
“Parents spend an average of 46 minutes educating their children on cyber safety in their entire lifetime, couple this with the fact an average child above the age of 13 spends seven hours per day online for leisure activity alone, it's easy to see where the disparity and the concern lies,” says Nina. “We all need to be doing better in equipping our children to have the skills to navigate safely when online.”
The first step to greater awareness and understanding is often honesty and, when approaching these conversations with children, the NSPCC recommends:
- Reassuring them that you are interested in their online and offline life.
- Asking them to show you what they enjoy doing online.
- Being open about both the things you like and the things you are concerned about.
- Asking them if there’s anything they are worried about.
- Asking about the friends that they have online.
- Asking them what they think is OK to access at different ages, to involve them in the conversation.
As we continue to explore both the ways that social media can connect and empower us, and the ways it can expose us to harm, it’s more important than ever that we stay alert and take steps to protect those who need it.
For more information on keeping children safe online, head to NSPCC.org.uk
Need support? Connect with a counsellor using counselling-directory.org.uk