Safer Internet Day Survey Reveals Results on Protecting Kids Online in Scotland

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Worrying statistics have emerged about the lack of protection for children in Scotland when they surf the internet at home.

A survey carried out by Glasgow-headquartered web security company Westcoastcloud for UK Safer Internet Day (Feb 7) reveals that although half of parents in Scotland have installed software to protect their children from accessing unsuitable content when they use desktop PCs and laptops in the home, only 1 in 4 has installed similar protection on the mobile phones, games consoles and television services their kids also use in the house.

Yet 1 in 5 parents questioned said they had been concerned about something that had happened to their child while they were using the internet at home.

Bill Strain, Director of Westcoastcloud, says: “Whilst it’s encouraging that fifty per cent of parents in Scotland are being more vigilant about the risks their children face when going online on a computer or laptop, many of them are still failing to recognise that in our increasingly mobile world, the same level of protection needs to be provided when their children are accessing the internet via their mobile phones, the television and while they’re gaming.

It’s also interesting that parents are continuing to worry about the explicit and sexual content their children can access online. It’s so easy for kids to stumble across age –inappropriate material even if they’re just flicking through the TV channels, so parents do need think about protecting across every internet-connected device in the home.”

Westcoastcloud’s survey was commissioned to coincide with Safer Internet Day which is taking place across the UK today (7 Feb) under the slogan ‘Discovering the digital world together safely.’

David Wright from the UK Safer Internet Centre said: “While the internet is such an amazing resource, just like life it carries risk, not least for children with cyberbullying and adult content. Surveys like this demonstrate that online safety is a real issue for parents and that parenting in the 21st century is very different to that compared to the 20th century.”

The survey, carried out by leading market research company OnePoll for Westcoastcloud, questioned five hundred parents with children between 5 and 16 years of age across the six cities of Scotland about their attitudes towards keeping them safe online in the home.

While 49% said they had installed parental controls (filtering and blocking software) on computers and laptops their children used in the house, only 24% had done the same on mobile phones used at home. When asked whether they’d activated parental controls on games consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation, only 27% said they had, while only 24% had activated parental controls on their Sky TV or Freeview boxes. Almost 1 in 10 had not installed any internet protection software at all.

The parents questioned in the Westcoastcloud survey also revealed that they were worried about the sort of content their children come across on the internet. Almost 60% said they were worried about the explicit sexual content their children could come across; 50% said they were worried about online grooming by paedophiles; 47% said they were worried about online bullying and 45% were concerned about graphic violence online. Almost 1 in 4 (24%) said they were also concerned about the moderate nudity and sexual content in music videos and on showbiz websites.

When asked how they rated their knowledge of how to keep their children safe online 68% admitted they weren’t completely confident, with 25% confessing that their knowledge was poor or that they left the issue of internet safety to their children because they knew more about it.

Bill Strain, director of Westcoastcloud, explained: “There are many things parents can do to keep their children safe on the internet. The first and most important thing you can do is talk to your children to make them aware that the internet can expose them to all sorts of wonderful things but also all sorts of unsuitable things and get them to understand the risks. Secondly, you can agree certain rules with them and third, you can install web security software which will filter and block inappropriate content or websites.”

Westcoastcloud helps keep millions of families protected online with its internet safety software Netintelligence – the only web security software to have been given the BSI Kitemark for Child Online Safety. To coincide with Safer Internet Day the Netintelligence website www.netintelligence.com  has been transformed into an information portal with downloadable information sheets, videos and links to internet safety organisations, so that parents and carers can get up-to-date advice about how to keep their children safe online.

Geographical breakdown of the survey results by city: main facts and figures

Glasgow

66% of parents in Glasgow – more than in any other Scottish city – said they had installed parental controls (filtering or blocking software on home laptops) but only a third of them had also done so on mobile phones or had activated parental controls on other internet-connected devices their children used.  74% of parents in Glasgow were most worried about explicit sexual content online – more than in any other Scottish city.

Edinburgh

Only 37% of parents in Edinburgh said they had installed parental control software on home laptops, while a mere 22% said they’d done the same on the mobile phones their children used at home. Only 20% had activated parental controls on their TVs, with 23% doing the same on gaming consoles. Parents in Edinburgh were most concerned about explicit sexual content online (50%), while just over 40% were concerned about graphic violence, online grooming and online bullying.

Aberdeen

42% of parents in Aberdeen said they had installed parental control software on home laptops, with only 20% doing so on mobile phones.  Almost a third had activated parental controls on mobile phones, while only 18% had done so on their TV sets. Parents in Aberdeen were most concerned about graphic violence online (53%) and online grooming by paedophiles (50%).

Dundee

Half of the parents in Dundee (50%) had installed parental controls on their laptops in the home, but a meagre 10% had done so on their mobile phones. 25% had activated parental controls on games consoles their children use at home, while only 15% had done so on their TVs. Worryingly, 10% – the highest percentage of any city – had not installed any internet protection at all.  60% of parents in Dundee were worried about explicit sexual content, 60% were worried about online grooming, 55% were worried about graphic violence and 45% were worried about online bullying.

Inverness

36% of parents in Inverness had installed parental controls software on their home laptops, while only 20% had done so on mobile phones. Just under a third had activated parental controls on games consoles (26%), while 30% had done so on their TV sets. Parents in Inverness were most concerned about explicit sexual content (66%), while 53% were concerned about online grooming by paedophiles. 43% and 36% respectively were concerned about online bullying of their children and graphic violence.

Stirling

46% of parents in Stirling said they had installed parental control software on their home laptops, while only 19% had done so on their mobile phones. 23% had activated the parental controls on their home gaming consoles, while only 15% had done so on their TVs. Parents in Stirling were most concerned about both explicit sexual content (53%) and graphic violence (53%). 46% were worried about online bullying while 36% were worried about online grooming of paedophiles.

Quote from a respondent

A mum of two from Glasgow who took part in the survey, described how her young daughter had seen a pornographic image after an unexpected pop-up came onto the screen of their home PC on a legitimate website her husband had been using. She said: “It was a valuable lesson to always make sure you log off when you’re away from the computer even for a few minutes and to make sure all our children have to access the internet via separate logins that have parental controls installed.”

Westcoastcloud helps keep millions of families protected online with its internet safety software Netintelligence – the only web security software to have been given the BSI Kitemark for Child Online Safety. To coincide with Safer Internet Day the Netintelligence website www.netintelligence.com  has been transformed into an information portal with downloadable information sheets, videos and links to internet safety organisations, so that parents and carers can get up-to-date advice about how to keep their children safe online.

Background information:

This is the second survey that Westcoastcloud has commissioned on children’s use of technology in the past six months. In September 2011, its first survey revealed that a third of under 10s own a mobile phone. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15003500)

Westcoastcloud is a subsidiary of iomart Group plc, Scottish Digital IT Company of the Year 2011, which is ranked as one of the top web hosting companies in the world. Westcoastcloud director Bill Strain was recently voted IT leader of the Year by IT Pro.

For more information about Westcoastcloud visit www.westcoastcloud.com

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