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Half of parents can’t name their child’s best pal

Mind the safety gap: Parents drop their guard online

 

New research unveiled today reveals that normally vigilant parents are putting their children at risk by not using the safety standards they impose in the real world when their children are online. Two thirds (62%) of parents are unaware of their child’s online contacts and half (50%) can’t name the person their child chats to most when surfing the net.

With CEOP reporting up to 100 alerts a month1from child internet users who are in immediate danger of sexual abuse or violence at the hands of online predators, parents need to think carefully about allowing their children free rein to roam the internet.

The Virtual Parenting Report, commissioned to mark the launch of Yoursphere.co.uk, a new social network aimed at kids and teens only; using world class identity verification and content monitoring to protect young people from predators and those hiding behind fake profiles, shows a huge discrepancy between the safety standards that parents typically teach in the real world and those that they allow on the world wide web.

Unsurprisingly, when asked about how they feel about their children’s real word safety, the overwhelming majority (95%) of parents would not want their children talking to strangers, 94% would not want them meeting people they don’t know and 80% said they would not allow their child to have friends much older than them.

Despite this, only a third (33%) can claim that they are really vigilant when it comes to their child’s online safety, where strangers of any age can interact with young people under the cloak of anonymity. Two thirds (68%) have no idea what their children discuss with ‘friends’ online, and 43% have little or no knowledge of what exists in terms of photos or personal information that has been posted about their child.

Curfew conundrum

A further 40% of parents said they would allow their child to stay online past 9pm but only 30% would let their child stay out this late in the real world. 58% of 9-12 year olds were allowed to stay out till 8pm, rising to 75% who were allowed to stay online till the same time. So, parents will not allow their child to venture outside yet they will happily leave their child to roam the web unsupervised.

A parent’s eye view

Not only do parents have a lack of knowledge of the amount of information held online about their children, 28% said they do not supervise their child’s online behaviour at all and only a third (38%) of parents say they make sure to sit in the same room as their child with full view of the computer screen. Less than one in ten (8%) parents of 9-12 year olds say they sit next to their child whilst online.

Increased access to the web

Children’s access to the internet poses additional problems, with ever more places for them to surf the net unsupervised; a third (35%) access the internet from personal computers and laptops, 12% from their games consoles and 4% on their mobiles. Even children as young as nine are gaining access to the internet on their own computers, with one in five (19%) parents of 9-12 year olds admitting their children access the web from their own PCs.

Surfing in safety

Founded by a mum who was horrified by existing social sites aimed at teens, Yoursphere.co.uk has been designed to nurture young interests in a safe environment. Yoursphere.co.uk is available to all young people up to 18 and exceeds COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protect Act) guidelines; for children under 13 that means parents are able to access and view information their child posts and ‘friending’ others is exclusive to those within a three-year age range.

World class safety features from Yoursphere’s partner, NetIDme, verify parent's identity and seek verifiable parental consent. Content monitoring; through both innovative technologies and human input, proactively safeguard children from harmful content and people intending harm.

Alongside this, Yoursphere.co.uk follows the guidelines laid out in the Byron Review 2008 and carries the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) ‘Report Abuse Button’ and a direct link to Childline, offering members access to help and advice should they need it. Yoursphere.co.uk has also teamed up with Beatbyullying to create an army of CyberMentors on hand to help members with any issues relating to cyberbullying on the site.

Yourspherewill be free to anyone joining for the first month, following which a subscription fee of £3.50 per month or £27.50 per year will be charged to help pay for the safety system in place, including identity verification, ongoing content monitoring and other proprietary measures.

Mary Kay Hoal, Yoursphere.co.uk founder, says, “It’s clear from the research that parents take a huge interest in their child’s safety, but they are possibly missing a trick when it comes to monitoring their online behaviour in the same way they take an interest in the real world. Yoursphere.co.uk was created to offer a chance for parents, just like me, to embrace real world safety in an online age – parents can’t monitor their children’s every move and kids don’t want that either. Kids deserve a really safe place to meet up with their friends online that gives them freedom of expression, without fear of being targeted by predators or constrained by concerned parents breathing down their neck. Yoursphere offers that solution.”

Alex Hewitt, CEO of NetIDme, added, “Parents want to feel their children are safe online and, above all, know that the people they are talking to are who they say they are. The measures put into place by Yoursphere offer parents that piece of mind. I would certainly be more than happy for my children to be using the site.”

Further statistics from the Virtual Parenting Report revealed:

Age appropriate content

  • 99% would not want their children sharing personal details online
  • 97% would not allow their kids to give out personal details
  • 52% would not want their children exposed to over age video games
  • 43% would not want their child watching films that were certified above their age
  • 5% of parents  of 9-12 year olds do not allow their children online at all

Web access locations

  • 84% regularly access the internet from the family computer
  • 62% at school
  • 35% from personal computers
  • 20% at friends houses
  • 12% on games consoles
  • 6% at the library
  • 4% from their mobiles

My best teacher

Despite half of parents being unable to name their child’s best friend online, parents clearly take a real interest in their children’s lives:

  • 84% can name their child’s favourite activity
  • 72% can name their child’s favourite TV programme
  • 71% can name their child’s favourite sport
  • 52% can name their child’s favourite teacher

Kids details on the web

Unsurprisingly parents were not keen to allow their children to share personal information online, but with little knowledge of their activity only 57% could confidently say they knew what was actually out there:

  • 99% would not be happy for their children to share their bank details online
  • 98% their home address
  • 97% home telephone number
  • 93% their mobile number
  • 87% their date of birth
  • 52% their email address

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