One in seven parents find unsuitable material on their child’s smartphone or tablet, according to UK survey

A recent survey by BullGuard has shown that UK parents have serious concerns about the safety of their children when online.

BullGuard, a global leader in Internet and mobile security, compiled responses from 2000 parents of 7-14 year olds and established that one in seven had found unsuitable material on their child's smartphone or tablet.

Read more: A guide to keeping your child safe online

The survey revealed that most parents have struggled to allow their children to fulfil their natural curiosity and experience the educational benefits of the Internet, while also ensuring they are not subjected to potentially damaging content.

83 per cent of parents agreed that the responsibility to protect their children was theirs, but with the average British child receiving a mobile phone from the age of eight, it can be a difficult responsibility to fulfil in practice.

The primary concern for parents is the possibility of their children talking to strangers online, with cyber bullying and distraction from schoolwork also featuring prominently. 36 per cent of parents also believe that their child meets up with friends to search for inappropriate terms or images.

Cam Le, CMO at BullGuard, emphasised what a difficult task it is for parents to limit what their child sees online.

"The research shows that while many parents appreciate that children are naturally curious, they are also concerned about the potential dangers that exist online and the likelihood of their child experiencing unsuitable and inappropriate content," she said.

"As children grow older it becomes commonplace for them to want to search for terms they hear in the playground or used by adults, or to visit the same sorts of websites as their friends, which can make it very difficult for parents to keep a constant eye on what's going on."

Read more: Cameron, Miliband and Sophie Ellis-Bextor pledge support for new child safety portal

It seems that many parents take a proactive stance on controlling online activity, with 43 per cent admitting to checking their child's Internet history. However, child protection software still remains key to filtering out harmful content, as Cam Le states, "Modern parental controls are advanced enough to allow parents to choose what sites are safe to visit, to view reports on a child's activity or receive alerts if inappropriate content is detected. It offers significant peace of mind and gives parents a helping hand in staying one step ahead of the potential dangers."