New research by a money-saving website has revealed that more than half of all parents have found their children talking to strangers online in some capacity. What’s more, of these respondents, 72% said they had parental restrictions in place on the computers and tablets their child uses, with the majority stating that the interactions had happened on ‘safer’ sites like Facebook
The discount website, Voucher Codes Pro, polled 1,938 UK-based adults, all of whom revealed prior to the survey that they had at least one child aged 8 – 16. Participants were also required to have at least one computer in their home.
Initially, respondents were asked, “Have you even witnessed your child speaking to someone you do not know online?” to which 57% of participants answered yes. Wanting to find out more, researchers asked these participants whether they had parental restrictions in place on the computer their child uses to which 72% said they had.
When these individuals were asked why they believed this hadn’t prevented anything, the vast majority, 89% said that the interactions with the strangers has taken place on ‘safe’ sites like Facebook.
Delving deeper, those who did admit they had caught their child talking to strangers online were asked what they did in response to this, with the following five answers emerging as the most common:
- I banned my child from access to the internet – 39%
- I deleted my child’s social media accounts – 24%
- I grounded my child and confiscated technology – 14%
- I tried to teach my child about online safety – 18%
- I didn’t do anything – 7%
Next, participants were asked if they felt ‘well-equipped’ to teach their child about internet safety to which 74% of parents stated they did not, with the majority of these, 89%, blaming their own lack of knowledge of technology.
Finally, the parents who had caught their child were asked if they felt their methods had been effective in stopping their child talking to strangers in the future to which 1 in 3, 35%, said they did feel this way.
George Charles, spokesperson for VCP commented:
“Parents still seem to struggle a little with the rate at which the internet is growing and changing. Even younger parents are finding themselves struggling to keep up with the amount their children know about the internet which seems to now be putting them at risk. Teaching children about internet safety is imperative in preventing anything serious from happening, especially as parental blocks cannot be relied on.”