Over four in 10 parents in the South West think their child is safer playing outside than online

26 July 2016
• Over a third (36%) of parents in the South West have no parental controls in place to try and keep their children safe online
• Of those proactive parents using controls, two thirds (66%) will block their children from inappropriate content, and almost half (49%) will monitor their child’s access to devices
• More effort being made to talk to children about the potential dangers and risks online 

With school summer holidays upon us, many children will be spending more time than usual online. Research amongst 1,000 UK parents of 4-18 year olds by YouGov and commissioned by Get Safe Online  has revealed that this is a key concern. 

Over four in 10 (47%) parents in the South West said that they felt that their children will be safer playing outside than online, yet despite this, over a third (36%) have no parental controls in place to try and keep their children safe online.

Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, commented: "Technology is now a given for children, but the online world changes so fast - we’ve seen that over the last few weeks with the mass uptake of Pokémon GO, which now brings the online world into physical environments and a whole new set of risks. 

"Our children in the South West are growing up to be extraordinarily tech-savvy which does make it difficult for parents to keep control of what they are doing online. And we can see that many are worried about the risks their kids face when they are browsing, playing games and watching content on computers and other devices. Last year, Ofcom found that over half of 3-4 year olds and three-quarters of 12-15 year olds were using tablets."

The research found that many parents in the South West are already using a range of different tactics to help protect their children from a variety of risks, including watching inappropriate content to being bullied online: 

Tech savvy tactics :
• Two thirds (66%) block their children from inappropriate content 
• Almost a half (49%) monitor their child’s access to devices like smart phones and tablets  
• 29% use free parental controls offered by the four ISPs
• Almost a third (28%) use safe browsers like Google SafeSearch

Talk it through:
• Half of parents (48%) tell their children to steer clear of pop ups or links online
• 52% tell their child what to do if approached by a stranger online
• Less than a third (29%) will talk to their child about what to do if they experience bullying online 

A traditional take:
• 26% of parents will restrict access to certain activities like homework
• A third (34%) will keep devices in places easily seen by the whole family
• 55% will agree a list of appropriate websites with their child

Tony Neate continues: "It’s promising to see that parents are beginning to use a variety of measures to educate their children about online safety, by having open and honest conversations with them about the potential risks and dangers and setting down clear rules – and also using technology controls. But over a third still aren’t using the tools available to monitor usage and block, and even more worryingly, not even talking to their children about online stranger danger.

“For all parents, technology can be a real blessing in keeping their children busy and entertained over the long summer holidays. And right at the start is a great time to make sure you have clear conversations with children about the risks of being online as well as look into some of the technology tools you can use to help. These tools are surprisingly easy to use, we have details of what is available and how to use them on getsafeonline.org.”  

Dorset Police Head of Investigations, Temporary Detective Superintendent Pete Little said: “In the age of smartphones and tablets, adults can find it a real challenge to not only educate children in doing the right thing, but monitor and control their online behaviour. I would urge parents to visit GetSafeOnline and cybersafe.dorset.police.uk for help and advice on keeping your children safe online.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, said: “Cyber-crime has the potential to affect anyone in Dorset. Our young people are online more than ever before and are at an increased risk of threats online, including cyber-bullying, an awful crime which has far reaching effects.

“I pledged that within my first 100 days in office I would ensure that the Force continues to educate residents on how to stay safe online and we are working alongside UK online safety advisor, Get Safe Online to enhance the guidance and support we provide."

Get Safe Online recommends that all parents take at least the following steps to protect their children online. Comprehensive expert, impartial, practical, free advice can be found at www.getsafeonline.org

• Talk regularly with your child about their online lives

• Guide your family – in the same way that you do in other aspects of their day-to-day lives

• Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and rules for your children from a young age

• Try out some of the technologies your child enjoys for yourself

• Speak to friends, family and other parents about their approach to keeping their children safe online. Exchanging experiences can be highly valuable

• Use parental controls on computers, mobile devices and games consoles as well as privacy features on social networking sites and safety options on Google / other search engines. Opt into your ISP’s family filters

• Install reputable parental control software and apps to help ensure age-appropriate online activity and monitor your child’s internet usage

• Stay aware of changes in your child’s behaviour or moods, as it may be a sign that your child is being bullied, harassed or abused online

• Try not to rely purely on technology to keep your child safe online, instead use it to support you in setting the limits and build a dialogue with your child

• Remember that social networking and picture sharing sites have minimum age limits – find out what they are and make sure your child isn’t using age-inappropriate networks and apps

• As your child grows up, make sure they’re aware of the basics of online safety, such as not clicking on links in emails and instant messages, good password practice, not turning off internet security programs / apps and firewalls and not revealing personal information

• For more information on what you need to know about Pokémon GO, the following web page has all the latest online safety tips and advice: https://www.getsafeonline.org/news/childrens-safety-added-to-pokemon-go-concerns/ 

Report it:

• For advice, help or to make a report of what you believe to be a case of attempted or actual child exploitation, visit the CEOP (Child Exploitation & Online Protection) Safety Centre - https://ceop.police.uk/ 

• To report a crime against a child report it to Dorset Police on 101, or if you believe a child is in immediate danger dial 999. 

• If you think you or your child has been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Witness Appeal

Did you see anything? If you have any information to share, please get in touch

Get in touch
News archive FOI disclosure log

Media / Journalists

If you are an accredited journalist or member of the media, please click here for information about how to contact our News Team. They don’t handle other enquiries, but members of the public can contact us in many other way by clicking here.