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Technology / Cybersecurity

UK parents need help to educate children on internet risks

Brit parents’ confidence in their own IT knowledge is lacking and they need help to educate their children on how not to misuse the Internet and stay safe online, a study by AVG Technologies and Plymouth University in the UK has suggested.

The survey, which was carried out among 2,000 UK parents, found that 86% agree that an online safety assessment would identify knowledge gaps and allow them to better educate children about staying safe online.

Among the surveyed parents, 52% of them said they make school selection decisions based in part on a school’s ability to teach online safety, with about 13% of these parents saying that online safety credentials would be the deciding factor if a new school was being selected now.

The study found that 56% of parents, whose children were in primary and secondary school, and 42% of teenagers’ parents have not had a discussion with children about sexual adult content online even as evidence pointed out that the majority of 14 year old boys and teenagers have accessed this content.

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AVG Technologies senior security evangelist Tony Anscombe said they were seeking the support of the government and forward-thinking schools to support their recommendation and develop an easy to use assessment for parents, effectively extending e-safety training to parents.

"Just as parents agree to an Internet usage policy with a child’s school, parents should be tasked with truly understanding what they’re signing up to and how their children are actually using the internet, both at home and in the school," Anscombe said.

Plymouth University professor of social responsibility Andy Phippen said: "Safe Internet use should be top of mind for all parents; sexting, cyberbullying, exposure to explicit content and other Internet-related issues are only on the increase."

"To protect our children from these dangers both parents and schools need to continually work to stay ahead of how children use the Internet and of the relevant guidance we need to provide."

Phippen noted that an online safety assessment may give parents an indication of their strengths and weaknesses and by partnering with the school, they could identify areas they need to practice on, accessing helpful advice and learning materials.
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