Cybersecurity

Report: 84% of parents worried about child internet safety

Concern does not translate into action. This is what the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky’s latest global research revealed. Even if 84% of parents expressed concern for their children’s internet safety, they also confessed that they spend a total of only 46 minutes talking about it in the kids’ entire childhood.

The research did not explain the disparity in numbers or what could be the cause of inaction.

There is no doubt in the heightened awareness of children’s online privacy and security recently because these digital natives did not know a world without the internet. Their social life consists of in-person and online communication. Also according to Kaspersky’s survey, over 9 in 10 children between 7 and 12 years old globally now have an internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet.

In particular, nearly 2 in 3 parents (64%) agree that their kids spend too much time online, which not only means trading other joys and benefits of childhood for the screen time but also being continuously exposed to various potential risks.

The most dangerous online threats, according to the parents’ point of view, are children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent (27%); experiencing internet addiction (26%); and receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or inappropriate activity (14%).

To reduce potential risks and explain the dangers of surfing the Internet, 81% of parents say it is a joint responsibility between parents and schools to teach children about online safety. 86% believe that parents are better positioned to do so since children generally trust them more.

With parents acknowledging the onus on them to provide their children with guidance, yet spending less than an hour doing so, the Kaspersky research makes clear that parents are finding such conversations difficult. In having these conversations, parents cited the biggest challenges as being:

  • Explaining the threats in a way that children can understand and relate to (60%)
  • Getting children to take the threats seriously (51%)
  • Dissuading children from following and/or giving them the confidence to not follow peer pressure (42%)

“While it is completely understandable that parents do not want their children to feel fearful about going online, it is essential that this doesn’t mean that they take a lax approach to internet safety,” said Emma Kenny, psychologist and a resident on British news channel ITV. “Balance is key and an informed child is a safe child. By breaking down the barriers of communication regarding online safety and etiquette, parents ensure that their children get the very best out of their cyber life whilst feeling reassured about their child’s online behavior.”

“Children need to be protected, and parents can do this by firstly educating themselves about the sites that their children visit by spending time with them as they surf the web, and secondly, by ensuring they have a reliable solution that protects their children from stumbling on inappropriate or offensive material.”

It’s clear that parents need to adopt more personal, verbal approaches for creating safer internet experiences and use the tools that are available to them to help start having those conversations.

To help families protect children from various Internet threats, Kaspersky recommends:

  • If you know what your child is looking for online, you can offer help and support, but use the information carefully
  • Discuss with your child how much time they can spend on social media. Try to persuade your child not to use social media during school lessons or at night.
  • Try not to limit your child’s social circle, but tell them to take care when choosing friends and acquaintances.
  • Subscribe to the Family edition of our Kaspersky Security Cloud. The service incorporates Kaspersky Safe Kids and helps to guard your family and private data, plus protect your kids online and beyond
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