According to a survey by BroadbandChoices.co.uk, most parents in the UK are not actively monitoring what their kids are up to when using the Internet. In fact, while 40 percent of kids between the ages of 11 and 16 use Facebook and MySpace, 45 percent make new friends in chatrooms and 48 percent regularly download stuff online. Yet 84 percent of parents say they prefer to rely upon 'verbal agreements' to ensure that their children are able to surf safely.
The fact that parents do not apparently know what their kids are downloading could be problematical in the UK as it will be parents, through their Internet accounts, who are punished if pirate music and moves are on that download menu. A new industry agreement will see the potential for households to find they have no Internet access in such circumstances, on a three warnings and you are out basis.
Michael Phillips, Product Director, BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said "There are financial implications to your child’s internet activities. With 48% downloading music online it would be easy to exceed your broadband fair usage limit leaving unsuspecting parents out of pocket at the end of the month.”
However, is it really that surprising so many parents are relying upon verbal agreements considering that their kids are often far more tech savvy than they are themselves? Many would have no idea where to start as far as parental control software, filtering, blocks and the like enter the browsing equation. Which is why more and more ISPs are starting to adopt that parental role by offering such filtering and control packages as part of their service offerings,
I don't subscribe to the 'me no understand Internet' argument though. As a parent myself I take my responsibilities very seriously, and while talking to my kids and reaching a verbal agreement on acceptable and safe behaviour is of course important, so is understanding what my kids are into. If that is something I know nothing about, then it is my responsibility to learn.
Do I monitor their online activity? You betcha!
There has been much written about the importance of education, getting the safe surfing message across to kids. Yet precious little about educating parents as to what the dangers are and how they can be mitigated.
Perhaps it is time that all changed...