Over 60 per cent of parents monitor their children’s phones to see what they’re up to online, according to new research by internet and mobile security expert BullGuard.
The study of 2,000 parents revealed that one in five do not trust their children online and suspect they are accessing inappropriate content, with a quarter saying they were shocked by what they found after reading through emails, Facebook posts and instant messages.
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Cam Le, Chief Marketing Officer for BullGuard said: “The research shows parents are understandably nervous about what their children are up to on the internet. Clearly parents want to protect their children from harm – yet they also to want to ensure their kids do not miss out on the fantastic things the web has to offer.
“With the internet ever evolving it’s no wonder mums and dads are troubled by what they see as a lack of control, however there are lots of steps they can take to help ensure their children are safe.”
During a typical weekend, the average child sends and receives over 100 emails, texts and instant messages. Over a third of worried mums and dads admit they look at their kids’ emails, while nearly four in ten read through their instant messages on apps such as Kik, Snapchat and WhatsApp.
The study also found that mums and dads spend on average one hour 45 minutes every week looking at their kids’ devices to see what they have been up to. Half of parents sneak a peek while their kids are asleep, a quarter do it when they are at school and nearly a third do it whenever their children are not looking. Despite this, four in ten admit they are wracked with guilt for spying on them after they had found perfectly innocent messages.
While Apple’s iPhone and iPad have restrictions, or parental controls that can be set using a passcode, over one in ten admitted that their children know more about social media than they do and could “run rings around them.” As a result nearly 56 per cent have rules in place about when their kids can access their smartphones or tablets to protect their children.
It is estimated that teenagers now spend up to six hours a day in front of some form of small screen.
A recent University of Derby study highlighted the disturbing downside to our digital obsession. It concluded: “Smartphones are psychologically addictive, encourage narcissistic tendencies and should come with a health warning.”
Research from the Department for Education also revealed a stark increase in the number of children beginning primary school struggling with speech and those who find it difficult to communicate during their early years are often more likely to struggle at school.