Children at risk using devices without parental controls, study says

The study aims to highlight the risks children face online ahead of Safer Internet Day

The study aims to highlight the risks children face online ahead of Safer Internet Day

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Nearly half of parents in the South East don’t put parental controls on devices like smartphones their child uses, according to a study.

Research by credit expert Equifax suggests that 43 per cent of parents in the South East of England with a child aged between eight and 18 years old don’t use parental controls on devices that their child uses, such as smartphones or tablets. This compares to the UK average of 41 per cent.

The study aims to highlight the risks children face online ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday.

Indeed over a quarter of parents (27 per cent) in the South East with a child aged eight to 11 years old admit to not applying parental controls to devices their child uses.

Parents may not always be aware of what their child is doing and who they are talking to online if they are able to use the internet in their bedroom, the company says.

The research also identified that more children in the South East are able to access the internet in their bedroom than the national average. 30 per cent of children in the South East admitted to doing this, compared to a UK average of 24 per cent. And of those, 15 per cent were aged just eight years old.

More than a quarter of eight to 11 year olds in the South East admitted to having a Facebook account, even though it has a minimum age requirement of 13. A further 19 per cent said they have a Snapchat account, followed by 16 per cent on Instagram, with four per cent on Twitter.

Supporting Safer Internet Day, Equifax is urging parents to focus on their children’s online activity and to understand how to protect them.

Lisa Hardstaff, credit information expert at Equifax, said: “The internet is a rich and amazing resource, which allows children to connect, research for school projects and be creative, but it’s important that parents apply the right controls to protect their children from the potential risks.

“Children are so tech savvy today that it’s easy for parents to feel confident leaving them to it; however, kids and even young people still need advice and protection.

“The risks include seeing inappropriate content, being victims of bullying or even grooming. It appears that 27 per cent of parents in the South East have witnessed or seen in the browser history that their child has accessed a website that is age-inappropriate.

“Safer Internet Day highlights the issues and offers parents and young people advice on everything from privacy settings to cyberbullying and sexting, which is vital to ensure kids can enjoy the internet and stay safe.”

According the Equifax, the main rules to tell children to help protect them online are:

- Always use privacy settings

- When creating your password reset questions and answers, keep in mind how easy it might be to guess the answer – is the information readily available or easy to research? If so, it may be safer to choose a more difficult question

- Use different passwords for each account

- Avoid keeping your passwords written down and never store them on your web browser

- Never share passwords and PINs with anyone

- Think before you share a photo

- Never give your information to someone you don’t know in the real world

- Don’t forget to download and install anti-virus and online security software which helps to protect your computer from outside attacks, such as malware and viruses that could try to steal information off your computer

- If anyone on the internet makes you feel uncomfortable you must talk to your parents

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