By Steve Hawkes
When quizzed, only 43 per cent of parents with children aged 5 to 15 have any filters in place on the family PC or laptop Photo: ALAMY (POSED BY MODEL)
Nearly 60 per cent of parents have no internet security in place for their children’s PCs or laptops despite a new report revealing that young kids have never been more at risk when going online.
Ofcom yesterday said there had been a notable increase in the number of under 15 year-olds who could be contacted by people unknown to them as children use a greater variety of social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
The number of children with actual social networking profiles has fallen, which the regulator said could be linked to fears of ‘cyberbullying’.
But in a mammoth report that will trigger fresh concerns in Westminster, Ofcom said 30 per cent of 12 to 15 year-olds are “friends” online with people they have never actually met, up from 22 per cent last year. And nearly one in ten of those with ‘open profiles’ have sent pictures or even video to people they have never actually met.
When quizzed, only 43 per cent of parents with children aged 5 to 15 have any filters in place on the family PC or laptop with 13 per cent admitting they either do not know how to install controls or did not know it was possible.
Ofcom added that around half of all parents of under 15s feel their child knows more about how to use the internet than they do. Incredibly, 14 per cent of parents feel their 3 or 4 year-old is more web savvy than they are.
The report adds that only a minority of parents have limited their children’s access to the net via their smartphone or games console.
But nearly one in ten 12 to 15 year-olds claim they know someone who has seen sexual content on their handsets.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard last night said the findings were “staggering”.
She told The Daily Telegraph: “You wouldn’t leave your house front door open to strangers, but not setting parental controls means the door is wide open for strangers to contact your kids online.
“It’s staggering to think over half of families don’t have safety software in place, it means the message isn’t getting out there about how to counteract the dangers.
“We have to get wise to what is going on and realise the landscape has changed from when we were growing up.”
Ofcom’s report “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes” revealed that some 10 per cent of internet users aged 12 to 15 have personally experienced online bullying. And 5 per cent of 8 to 11 year-olds say they have suffered bullying through their phone.
It also revealed the huge shift in technology being used by children. For the first time Ofcom said children’s use of mobile phones had fallen, from 49 to 43 per cent of 5 to 15 year-olds, as more switch to tablets.
Around a quarter of 12 to 15 year-olds but also 18 per cent of 8 to 11 year-olds have their own tablet computer and their use across 5 to 15 year-olds has tripled in the past year.
The tablet revolution means the number of children with a TV in their bedroom has fallen.
Earlier this summer Ofcom said the dramatic increase in the use of tablets such as the “iPad” had transformed the family living room into a multi-media hub, with members of the same family watching the TV, updating social networking sites or watching a film on a laptop in the same room at the same time.
Source: The Telegraph
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