Open Education Open Education

Internet Safety – When Adults Let Kids Down

Children Largely Surf the Web Unsupervised.

Ofcom recently published an interim report on media use by UK children. The details include some very interesting results that we would suspect mirror that of American children.

The report takes an in-depth look at the various media used by children ages 5-15 (computers, game consoles, cell phones, etc.), where and how frequently they use the media, and the e-safety measures imposed by parents. The results are then broken out in various tables according to age, sex and household income.

New Picture (13)The first critical general trend to note is that access to media, be it via television, the internet or other sources, continues to increase. While actual use varies, the two other most noteworthy trends include children using the internet at ever-younger ages but that their preference for television drops off with age.

The first somewhat troubling result is that more than a third of 12-15 year-olds now have internet access in their bedrooms. Yet, just under half of the parents have implemented internet filtering or parental controls, leaving nearly 60% of youngsters in the 12-15 age group to use the internet unsupervised.

A second troubling trend is that one in six users aged 5-7 are also mostly left to use the internet unsupervised as well. According to the survey results, most parents “say that they trust [their] child to use the internet safely.”

iStock_000009669392XSmallAs for utilizing parental filters for cable television or the internet, a significant number of parents (one in eight) did not know how to set such controls or were unaware that such controls existed.

While there continues to be strong advice for a different set of expectations, one that features televisions, computers and game consoles located in the family room, it would seem parents are giving in and allowing these media to migrate to their child’s bedroom.

Such results likely reinforce the notion that schools must do more in the way of educating children and their parents regarding media literacy, especially basic internet safety measures. In fact, the report may well indicate that parental education may well be the greater priority.

The full report can be found online (PDF) along with an annex (PDF) of the top fifty sites visited by UK children.

1 comment

1 Bobby { 10.20.09 at 6:35 pm }

Thank you for calling attention to a very real problem. It is so important for parents to be aware of what their children are doing on the Internet. There are many online temptations for anyone under the age of eighteen. The Internet can be a very dangerous place for kids and has many websites that are not suitable for children. A good portion of parents do not know how to install filters and blocks for protection. I agree with you that media literacy is a solution. The problem is that kids are the ones who are media literate while adults shy away from new technology. It is definitly a challenge for this generation as well as for generations to come.

Leave a Comment