Over a quarter of parents of 8 to 11 year-olds don't use parental controls online

Equifax research highlights the online risks for kids ahead of Safer Internet Day

According to the latest research* commissioned by Equifax, the consumer credit information expert, ahead of Safer Internet Day, 41% of parents with a child aged between 8 to 18 years old don’t use parental controls on devices that their child uses, like smartphones or tablets. Worryingly, over a quarter of parents (27%) with a child aged 8 to 11 years old admit to not applying parental controls to devices their child uses, leaving this impressionable group of youngsters at risk of accessing age inappropriate online content.

Adding its voice to Safer Internet Day (7th February 2017), Equifax is urging parents to focus on their children’s online activity and understand how to protect them.

The Equifax research also identified that 24% of children access the internet in their bedroom, which means that parents may not always be aware of what their child is doing and who they are talking to online. Of those, 15% were aged just 8 years old. Lack of control over internet usage by children is further highlighted by the fact that a third of 8 to 11 year olds (33%) admitted to having a Facebook account, even though it has a minimum age requirement of 13. A further 18% said they have a Snapchat account, followed by Instagram (17%), with 10% on Twitter.

“The internet is a rich and amazing resource, which allows children to connect, research for school projects and be creative, but it’s important that parents apply the right controls to protect their children from the potential risks,” explained Lisa Hardstaff, credit information expert at Equifax. “Children are so tech savvy today that it’s easy for parents to feel confident leaving them to it; however, kids and even young people still need advice and protection.

“The risks include seeing inappropriate content, being victims of bullying or even grooming. It appears that 30% of parents have witnessed or seen in the browser history that their child has accessed a website that is age inappropriate. Our survey also reveals that 12% of 12 to 18 year olds share their date of birth on social media and 19% share when and where they are going on holiday, which could leave them at risk of revealing too much personal information and falling victim to ID or impersonation fraud.

“In addition, 39% 12 to 18 year olds know at least some of their parents’ PIN for their smartphones or passwords for social media accounts. 32% of parents admit that they don’t use the passcode function on their smartphone or tablet, meaning it could leave an open door for their children to rack up large bills on apps and games purchases very quickly.

“Safer Internet Day highlights the issues and offers parents and young people advice on everything from privacy settings to cyberbullying and sexting, which is vital to ensure kids can enjoy the internet and stay safe.”

The main rules to tell your children to help protect them online

  • Always use privacy settings
  • When creating your password reset questions and answers, keep in mind how easy it might be to guess the answer – is the information readily available or easy to research? If so, it may be safer to choose a more difficult question
  • Use different passwords for each account
  • Avoid keeping your passwords written down and never store them on your web browser
  • Never share a password and PINs with anyone
  • Think before you share a photo
  • Never give your information to someone you don’t know in the real world
  • Don’t forget to download and install anti-virus and online security software which helps protect your computer from outside attacks, such as malware and viruses that could try to steal information off your computer
  • If anyone on the internet makes you feel uncomfortable you must talk to your parents

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally in February each year to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for children and young people. The day offers the opportunity to highlight positive uses of technology and to explore the role we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.

* Research conducted by Censuswide. 501 Parents with children aged 8-11, 504 children aged 5-11, 500 parents aged 12-18 and 500 children aged 12-18

For further press information, please contact: Clare Watson, Cecile Stearn, Parm Heer or Wendy Harrison at HSL on 020 8977 9132 / Fax: 020 8977 5200 or Email: equifaxbtocteam@harrisonsadler.com

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