Mums more likely to have online safety talk with kids

8th October 2013

Mothers are more likely than fathers to ensure that their children are properly informed about safe internet use, according to a new survey. 

For information and advice on safeguarding children, click here.

The study – carried out in the UK by internet security company Norton by Symantec – reveals that nearly one in three mums (32%) say that they would take the lead in sitting down to talk internet safety with their children compared with fewer than one in four dads (23%). The research was carried out in August and quizzed 4,762 adults, of which 1,091 were parents of children aged 18 or under.

More than half of parents (53%) said that they always or frequently check their child’s online activity. However, one in ten admits that they never check what their child is up to and 15% actively encourage their children to use online devices to keep them occupied while at home without any rules for use. Also, despite generally high-levels of awareness of potential threats, the poll also found that restrictions / safety settings on more than half of family devices are often minimal or not set at all. 72% of families have at least one smartphone in the home, but these devices are among the least likely to have any safety settings engaged, at just 16%.

Parents ranked limits on viewable content, prevention of contact from unknown people and prevention of sharing personal information as their top three most important restrictions respectively when considering keeping their family safe online.

Norton’s online family safety expert Deborah Preston said: “We are releasing this research to underline to parents the importance of talking to your children about internet usage – an incredible amount of our children’s lives are spent online, yet all too often parents have a blind spot when it comes to these activities or how to approach them. " She continued: "Our survey found that, on average, parents will start talking to their children about the potential risks of being online at seven years old. However, internet safety should be an important consideration for all parents from the moment their child begins using any Internet enabled device.”

Get Safe Online has partnered with Norton by Symantec, Neighbourhood Watch and CEOP to launch our ‘Switched On’ campaign, which encourages parents to sign up to monthly newsletter emails and download guides from

Parents can also call the free ‘Switched-On Hotline’ to speak to experts from Norton by Symantec about any online safety issues that are worrying them, including advice on parental control software. Launched at the beginning of September, the hotline has now been extended to run throughout October from 9am-9pm seven days a week – 0207 744 0022.

Ms Preston continued, “In my experience, parents sometimes don’t know where to begin when it comes to online safety, which is why we’ve partnered with Get Safe Online and are offering the helpline. There are a number of free online parental control services available, such as Norton Family, that give parents an easy starting point. We know from the research that 58% of parents see teaching safe internet use as the responsibility of both mum and dad, and we hope that parents will feel confident to approach their child’s online activity the same as any other activity, by helping to guide and teach appropriate behaviour, while respecting their growth and independence.”

She concluded: “Symantec is encouraging parents to manage their children’s budding online independence by educating them on the many serious dangers on the internet and to ensure they can surf the web knowing they are protected from the threats out in cyberspace today.”

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