Are we under-estimating what young people do online?

British parents are under-estimating how much time their children spend on the net and what they are doing online according to a new report by Symantec. The survey questioned over 9,000 adults and young people in 12 different countries

The Online Living report found that UK parents believe their children are online for 18.8 hours per week but according to young people, the true figure is 43.5 hours.

The report suggests that British parents were among those with the worst grasp of how long their children are online and that 20% of the 6,427 UK adults questioned had caught their children looking at unsuitable net sites. 81% of UK parents said they were confident that they knew what they children were looking at online but in contrast, 31% of children said their parents did not know what they were doing online. Among all the parents questioned, 75% said they talked to their children about staying safe online.

Around the world about one-third of parents are putting software controls, such as filters and parental controls on a family PC/laptop to keep children away from inappropriate content. In the UK the number putting controls on a PC is currently 54% which is higher than the global average of one third.  One-third of the UK children in the survey said they had added their parents as “friends” on a social networking site.

The survey did find that the net is helping to cement the social ties and improve relationships within families and that children and adults feel the benefits of using the internet far outweigh the risks (89% of adults and 90% of children)

It’s not about coming down hard on them when they encounter inappropriate content,” said Marian Merritt, Symantec’s internet safety advocate “The internet is a great place to learn and to play, but there have to be boundaries.”

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