Parents stand in the way of social networking

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Parents’ fears about social networking are preventing children exploiting the benefits of technology according to new research. 

The survey of 1741 people on an online parenting website showed that 90 per cent of parents do not allow their children to use traditional social networking websites.  Although 91 per cent of parents said they thought technology and the internet was “an opportunity” for their children, 84 per cent revealed they do not let their children use the internet unsupervised at home.

Parents are overwhelmingly worried about safety issues, rejecting concerns that social networking sites limit their child’s intellectual development.  The top five concerns parents had were grooming/paedophilia; accessing inappropriate content; cyber-stalking; identify theft and cyber-bullying.

Despite these fears, parents recognise the benefits of social networking with 60 per cent using social networking sites themselves “often” and a further 27 percent using them “sometimes”. 

The survey was conducted by IMJack which hopes to solve this problem with the launch this week of Kwercus - a new secure social networking site designed specifically for schools. 

Commenting on the results, child psychologist and author of the Government’s “Safer Children in a Digital World” report, Professor Tanya Byron said: “Parents know technology offers fantastic opportunities for them and their children but fears about social networking are standing in the way.  Unless we can reassure parents that kids can use social networking sites safely, a generation of children will miss out. Secure social networking sites answer this problem.  They allow children to share ideas and chat with friends free from the dangers of unregulated sites.  Rather than fearing the technology, parents can use the site to ensure safer surfing. “

Key results of the survey include:

  • 90 per cent of parents said they did not allow their children to use social networking sites; only 10 per cent do
  • 60 per cent of parents said they used social networking sites often; 27 per cent said they used them sometimes; 13 per cent said they never used them.
  • 84 per cent of parents said they do not allow their children to use the internet unsupervised at home; 16 per cent do allow unsupervised internet use.
  • 58 per cent said they knew what software their children used at school; 42 per cent did not.
  • 28 per cent parents said they had concerns about their children using social networking sites.
  • Asked where their children learn about the internet, 65 per cent said from the parents themselves, 20 per cent said from school, and 7 per cent said from friends.
  • 13 per cent parents said they thought their children’s teachers understand how to use the internet safely and to explain this to their children. 
  • 60 per cent of parents said they let their children on the internet under supervision before they were five years old. 

 The survey was conducted on the Netmums website (http:// www .netmums.com/home/home/)

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