According to the latest survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research company Savanta, 84% of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety.
Nevertheless, on average, parents only spend a total of 46 minutes talking to their children about online security through their entire childhood. More than half (58%) of those surveyed spend less than 30 minutes discussing the subject, which is half the time of one standard school lesson.
Children’s privacy and security online are becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns. These are well founded as, according to Kaspersky’s survey, over 9 in 10 children between seven- to 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 parents, 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%)
Emma Kenny, a leading psychologist as well as TV and Radio presenter and columnist, currently working in collaboration with Kaspersky, commented on the findings:
“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. 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.
“We unfortunately have to accept that the internet allows kids to encounter the content we never want them to see. Privacy and security concerns are now top of mind for parents, and we know how difficult it is sometimes talk about these concerns with children so that they listen and not push away. That’s why Kaspersky is committed to introducing solutions and recommendations for the whole family that provide parents and kids with peace of mind,” said Emma, Marina Titova, head of consumer product marketing at Kaspersky.
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 a security service that helps guard your family and private data