Weighing up when to give your children online independence is one of the biggest dilemmas a modern parent can face. From stranger danger to cyberbullying, parents need to feel assured their kids will stay safe on the Internet. A new global survey from Kaspersky has found that when it comes to online security, some parents prefer to play safe than trust their child’s judgment.

Despite more than two-thirds (67%) of parents at least somewhat agreeing their children are fully aware of online risks, about half remain cautious by using various tools and practices to keep their kids safe when using the internet.

In the times when children aged between seven and 12 access many of the same digital services their parents use, such as video streaming websites or other digital facilities, there are many online threats and risks that could affect children’s attitudes towards the internet. Many parents are aware of this and are keen to communicate with their children about how to mitigate against any possible dangers.

There is evidence that some modern parents having open discussions about staying secure while surfing the internet are effective. Therefore, two-thirds (67%) of parents at least somewhat agree that their children are fully aware of online risks. However, in addition to these meaningful conversations, parents could be driven to take a more proactive approach to find out what their children have been up to online.

For instance, half (50%) manually check their children’s devices – such as reviewing browser search history – after they have been used. This could be down to their child previously hiding internet activity or disobeying parental advice. Some parents use the technique of ‘digital grounding’, where they ban their children from using devices if they have misbehaved. Half (52%) of parents also set time-limits for their children’s use of internet-connected devices.

More than a third (35%) have installed parental controls on their children’s devices in order to restrict or limit internet usage or view surfing details. Nearly a third (30%) of parents use built-in parental controls, like those found in video games consoles, to keep their children safe. Similarly, 30% also use the settings in family Wi-Fi routers to turn off internet access after a set period of time.

“ As almost every child now has access to an internet-connected device, there is a likely chance they will encounter inappropriate content or become affected by an online threat – such as grooming or identity theft. Our research shows that parents are understandably wary that family conversations and advice may not always be enough to ensure their children appreciate the potential risks of browsing the internet; many parents also use apps to control content and time spent on a device,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky.

“We encourage parents to put any assumptions they may have about their children’s online habits to one side, and have an open dialogue with their kids about the need to control their digital activities and internet security, as they may not intentionally stumble on harmful content,” added Titova.

To help parents protect children and the rest of the family from online threats, Kaspersky recommends:

  • Adopt automatic device blocking to help control the time that your child spends on their computer, smartphone, or tablet. It also stops children from spending all of their free time in front of a screen and you can set the amount of time that you consider to be acceptable
  • Social media is part of a child’s personal space, so monitoring their online behavior could be perceived as an invasion of privacy – this especially the case amongst older children. Simply ask to be involved so you can gain a better understanding of their interests and form a closer relationship
  • Children rarely like talking about their social media content with parents. The best thing to do is to discuss how they use it, without criticizing or pressurizing, and offering advice on how to take care when making new friends or connections
  • By subscribing to the Family edition of Kaspersky Security Cloud, parents can benefit from a range of features to keep the whole family secure online. The service includes Kaspersky Safe Kids – which is specifically designed to protect children’s internet usage and safeguard private data
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