17/07/2006

Parents warned over children's internet use

A third of children, many as young as 11, use blogs and social networking sites at least two or three times a week, yet two-thirds of parents don't know what a blog is, a new report has revealed.

The 'Get I.T. safe' report, by children's charity NCH and Tesco Telecoms, found an "alarming gap" in knowledge between parents and their children when it came to technology.

Nearly half the children surveyed said they were confident that they could remove parental controls and internet security software, including 43% of 11 year-olds.

The report also revealed that only 1% of parents thought that their children used blogs regularly, although a third of 11-16-year-olds use these sites.

One in ten 11-year-olds admitted that their parents knew nothing about the people they communicated with online, while 13% said that they were never supervised while online.

Seventy-nine per cent of children also said that they used instant messaging regularly, although only a third of parents understood what instant messaging is.

Sixty-nine per cent of parents admitted that they know less than their children about mobile phone use.

John Carr, NCH's New Technology Adviser, said: "Children are pretty clued up when it comes to technology, but they often lack the worldly wisdom to steer them away from its potential hazards. That's where parents come in. But our research shows they need to increase their knowledge if they want to protect their children."

NCH and Tesco Telecoms have launched a technology guide to help parents increase their knowledge, Entitled 'Get I.T. Got I.T. Good!' which is being distributed at Tesco stores.

A series of 'technology doctor' workshops are also being run at selected Tesco stores around the country.

Andy Dewhurst, Chief Executive Officer of Tesco Telecoms, said: "Our free book is aimed at helping kids to encourage their parents to get to grips with technology.

"Young people are often in the driving seat when it comes to new technology and mobile phones and internet use can be of huge benefit for families. For example, parents can use texting to stay in regular touch with their children.

"However, all new technologies bring some risks and we believe that if parents talk to their kids and stay in touch with technology, then they can be much more aware of how young people are using their mobiles and computers and can understand and help prevent those potential risks."

(KMcA/SP)

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