Research from Ofcom reveals a very rapid increase in internet access in children’s bedrooms and as a result a huge jump in children’s unsupervised access to the internet. So how can parents control children’s internet usage?
According to the research, 35 per cent of kids aged 12-15 and 16 per cent of eight-11s now have broadband access in their bedrooms. This represents a huge increase in just two years when the last research was conducted, when the figures were 20 per cent and nine per cent respectively.
The effect of broadband access in kids rooms is that understandably a lot of kids’ internet surfing is undertaken unsupervised. Even one-in-five five-seven-year-olds claim to use the internet without an adult in the room, whilst less than 50 per cent of parents whose children use the internet at home say they have internet controls or filtering software in place.
Charlie Ponsonby, CEO of Ofcom-accredited broadband comparison service Simplifydigital.co.uk, said that with little effort, parents can make their children’s internet experience far safer, even if children are using the internet unsupervised.
“All parents should educate their children about the pitfalls of the web, and should also consider using ‘parental control’ software to control their children’s web access,” Ponsonby said.
Simplifydigital’s six-step guide to improving your child’s safety online is:
1) Make sure you are involved with your children’s internet usage. Ask them what sort of sites are their favourites and what their friends like to do. Discuss with them that the internet contains “good” and “bad” stuff and they should take care where they go online.
2) Teach your children the basic “rules” of internet use – they should never give out personal details such as their name, address, school and telephone numbers to online friends they don’t know in person; and they should never to respond to junk email or open attachments that are from people they don’t know.
3) Stay aware of any changes in the way they use the internet, such as the amount of time they spend online.
4) Use the “history” function on the internet browser from time to time, to check which websites that your children have been using.
5) Best of all, install Parental Control software which comes free with many broadband packages, if not it can be bought off the shelf. The software is very easy to install and allows you to block access to certain sites, or conversely define a “walled garden” of sites that are accessible.
6) Or choose a broadband package with your children in mind
Many of the broadband providers offer parental control software for free or for little extra cost. Leading broadband providers that offer parental control include: Orange Broadband offering parental controls through the McAfee Privacy Service; Sky offering parental controls through the McAfee security service (trial only); O2 Broadband offering parental controls through the McAfee security service; and TalkTalk which offers parental controls through its Security Boost at a cost of £2 per month.