Millions of UK youngsters are missing out on crucial online safety training, a study has shown.
Half of nine to 16-year-olds have had no formal internet safety teaching in school, a survey of 1,000 parents and 1,000 children commissioned by internet security firm ESET revealed.
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One in four parents admit they lack the confidence to initiate any conversation on the topic, believing their child has a better grasp of online security.
Instead, three-quarters of parents monitor online activity, 23% percent without their child knowing.
However, the study exposes a disparity between the actions of under 16-year-olds and what parents actually see, with children using shrewd tactics to hide their activity.
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Some 40% of children confessed to clearing their browsing history to keep it hidden, and almost a third have created online accounts that parents do not know about.
Half of the youngsters polled also admitted lying about their age to access a website.
“Online safety is the modern day ‘birds and bees’ conversation; it evokes dread and nervousness in parents who feel ill-prepared to teach their child the dos and don’ts of the online world,” said Mark James, technical director of ESET UK.
The research shows that two-thirds of parents believe it is primarily their role to educate children about internet safety, above schools, the police or the government.
“However their own online behaviour is questionable,” said Mark James. Education is fundamental to keep everyone armed with the knowledge of how to browse safely, he said.
In response to this, ESET has launched the UK’s first awards scheme to recognise individuals and organisations across the UK that are leading initiatives to educate others about internet safety.
Head of the UK Safer Internet Centre, David Wright, said, “Just like the real world, the online environment is constantly changing. It creates a complex landscape that is challenging to navigate safely. That’s why sharing best practices is more important than ever before.”