Kids give their parents the runround online

Children are giving their parents the runaround when it comes to internet use, a new report has found, while many parents admit they know less about the internet then their offspring.

Ofcom believes half of parents with children aged between five to 15 who use the internet at home haven’t got the foggiest compared to their kids. This rises to 70 percent of parents of 12-15 year olds, posing the question that if parents have no idea what’s going on, how will they be able to control their children’s browsing habits? They can’t.

There had also been increased online activity among children in the past year with mobile devices, including higher usage of mobile and games consoles to go online.

The research finds in the 12 to 15 year age group, 35 percent own a smartphone and nearly a quarter (23 percent) go online via a games console.  41 percent access the internet in their bedroom, up from 31 percent in 2009. The survey does not detail the percentage of teenage boys who go online in their bedroom.

See no evil, hear no evil, perhaps. Parents are seemingly less concerned these days about how their children use the internet.

In 2010 the first apron strings were cut over parental control, with only 37 percent at the time claiming they had any in place, a drop from 43 percent in 2009, though it may not have done them much good anyway.

Those that don’t have parental controls mainly say it’s either because they trust their child to keep to them or because they are supervising them themselves – the latter doesn’t seem to be very encouraging since many have admitted to being less savvy than their kids.

When it comes to overall internet use, 74 percent of all households now have the internet at home. This is an increase by three percent from 2009. Teens – between 12 and 15 – admit to spending 15.6 hours per week on the internet, just below the 17.2 hours they spend watching TV.
Overall, 54 percent of children aged 8-15 who use the internet at home have a social networking profile, an increase of nine percent from 2009.  This is now the same percentage as for adult internet users.

Around a third of children aged 8-12 who use the internet at home have admitted to having a social networking profile on sites that require users to register as being 13 or over. This includes the usual culprits such as Facebook, Bebo or MySpace. When it comes to 10 to 12 year olds, 47 percent admit to signing up anyway.

A quarter of children aged 8-15 with a smartphone also say that they regularly use it to visit social networking sites.

Reassuringly in terms of privacy, 87 percent of those aged between 12 and 15 claim they only make their profiles open to friends.

However, 32 percent of this group do admit to speaking to friends of friends or people that they don’t know.

In addition, 22 percent of 12-15 year olds who use the internet at home would be happy to share their email address online.

54 percent of adult internet users have had concerns about internet safety, such as offensive or illegal content, security or fraud, down from 70 percent in 2005. 41 percent think content on the internet is regulated, an increase of four percentage points since 2009.