Children are being left unsupervised to surf the internet, putting them at risk of becoming victims of crime according to new research.
Those as young as three are spending on average two and a half hours a week surfing the internet outside of school hours yet 46 per cent of parents are failing to monitor their child's internet activity.
Research complied by moneysupermarket.com has shown that as children get older; their parents claim the amount of time they spend on the internet outside of school increases. Those aged between 13 and 15 currently spend around four and a quarter hours online compared to the one and three-quarter hours that seven to nine year olds spend surfing the web each week.
But while internet usage in itself is not a concern, the fact that only 54 per cent of parents admit to monitoring websites every time their child goes online is a worry for many. Furthermore, only 42 per cent of parents confess to being present every time their child goes online with nearly two in 10 using a computer in their bedroom.
But perhaps more disconcerting yet is the fact that despite advances in parental control software, only 21 per cent of parents use it. However, a more cautious 34 per cent of parents regularly check the security settings and 32 per cent monitor their child’s browsing history.
As the internet grows ever popular for both studying and leisure activities, four in ten parents ensure their child's safety by setting rules and guidelines over the internet usage.
Rob Barnes, head of mobiles and broadband at moneysupermarket.com, explains: “The internet can be an invaluable tool. However, a child who doesn’t understand the dangers the net can pose may unknowingly encounter harmful material if parents do not put any protection in place. The results show parents are aware they need to monitor how their child is using the internet but could do more."
Of particular concern to parents are websites containing adult material with 29 per cent citing this as a primary worry, followed closely by chatroom and webcam sites which trouble 27 per cent of parents. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are also an area of concern for 26 per cent. Yet for some, the internet is nothing to be afraid of as 10 per cent claim that they are not particularly concerned with any particular type of site.
Mr. Barnes continues: "I would suggest setting rules and expecting children to obey them, especially teenagers, is not enough. At the very least the computer should be in a communal area. However, putting parental control software on your home computer, such as Netnanny or Weblocker, would offer more security as well as give parents extra peace of mind that their child is safe when surfing the net."
With many broadband deals now incorporating a range if parental controls and other security settings, parents are able to ensure that their child is protected from harmful content as well as stopping them falling victim to internet fraud.Compare broadband deals
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