Did you buy a mobile phone, iPad or laptop for your kids this Christmas ? If so - or if you're still thinking about it - you should definitely scroll down to the advice on internet safety from Virgin Media below.
A third of parents set to give their kids gadgets this Christmas but half forget about keeping them safe online
New research released before Christmas by Virgin Media found that more than a third of parents (36%) were planning to buy a new desktop computer or laptop for their children this Christmas yet almost half of these (48%) admitted they hadn’t considered taking advantage of parental controls to improve their online safety.
Virgin Media surveyed parents from across the UK as to whether they had software in place to manage their child’s online experience*. Of those parents that don’t have controls prepared, the research revealed:
- 30% would supervise their children online instead
- 26% did not think they would know how to set the controls up
- 23% admitted they would give full control to their child, trusting them to avoid sites that could jeopardise their safety
- 10% had never thought about it before
Of all the parents surveyed, 28% also admitted their child has or would have access to a computer away from supervision, such as in a bedroom, even though 31% were gravely concerned about chat room grooming.
A key concern is the threat of bullying, with 23% of parents who are aware their child has been bullied believing cyber bullying to be the main cause. Over a third (38%) of these parents felt unable to stop this in future because of a lack of knowledge on how to monitor it and report online bullying.
Despite Facebook being a key networking site for children of many ages, parents admitted limited visibility on what their children were doing and sharing through the site. Only a quarter of parents are friends with their children on Facebook, despite more than half indicating their children (55%) were on the site.
Jon James, executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: “The internet is a great place for learning and education but, just as there are fantastic resources for kids to enjoy, there are also some places on the web parents would rather their kids weren’t exposed to. As a responsible, family-focused ISP, we provide parental controls as part of our security suite, however this research highlights many parents are unaware they can tailor their family’s online experience without huge expense or hassle.”
Virgin Media is the first UK ISP to provide security software free of charge to every customer – regardless of their broadband tier – for the lifetime of their subscription. Simple to install and set up, parents can choose protection for their family from predefined levels of protection based on age groups, or tailor settings to enable or disable certain categories of websites as desired.
Parental controls also allow users to block web access at certain times of the day (e.g. during homework) or restrict browsing to specific sites, such as social networks, to specified hours.
To help parents protect their kids’ online world from the first time they connect to the internet this Christmas, Virgin Media has released some top tips for a safer online experience:
- Check with your ISP whether they offer any type of parental controls as part of your service. Virgin Media offers this service to its customers for free for the lifetime of their broadband service
- Consider how your child uses the internet and where you can introduce some restrictions. Many parents don’t realise that most parental control services are highly flexible so you can limit access to certain categories of sites whilst still giving children the freedom to enjoy safe sites
- Help children to understand they should never share personal details with people online that they don’t know offline
- Educate your child that the internet is not a private space and that anyone could see something they share online
- Advise your child not to open files or videos they receive from a stranger as these could contain a virus, or inappropriate visuals or videos
- Make sure your child understands what information is personal so they know not to share telephone numbers, addresses, the name of their school, siblings or sports clubs
- Consider becoming ‘friends’ with your child on Facebook and other social networks so you can passively monitor the people they are becoming friends with
- Make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about anything they see or receive online. Look out for ISPs that are part of the government backed Code of Practice announced in October as they are committed to ensuring that parents are better informed and educated about the options available to empower them to control access to online content
For further information on Virgin Media Security, visit www.virginmedia.com/security. Customers can also download a free PC Healthcheck utility and find out more about Virgin Media Digital Home Support at www.virginmedia.com/dhs. For general advice on staying safe online, visit www.getsafeonline.org.
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