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Half of children receive no Internet safety education

New research has raised concerns over the safety of children online, after 50 per cent of nine to 16 year olds were found to have had no formal teaching about the dangers of the web at school.

Commissioned by security firm ESET, the OnePoll study found that the problem was being exacerbated by the fact that one in four parents believed their children had a better grasp of online security than they do, and were less inclined to offer advice as a result.

With 1,000 nine to 16 year olds surveyed alongside 1,000 parents of children in the same age category, 40 per cent of the children said they cleared their browsing history to keep parents in the dark, with almost a third secretively creating online accounts their parents don’t know about. Perhaps unaware of the dangers online, 70 per cent of nine year olds believed they didn’t need to be monitored by parents.

The statistics serve to demonstrate why the Cabinet Office this month announced the launch of a wide-reaching education programme about Internet security, and ESET’s Technical Director, Mark James, says formal training is crucial given the common lack of knowledge among parents.

“Online safety is the modern day ‘birds and bees’ conversation; it evokes dread and nervousness in parents who feel ill-prepared to teach their child the dos and don’ts of the online world. The research shows that two thirds of parents believe it’s primarily their role to educate children about Internet safety, above schools, the police or the Government, however their own online behaviours are questionable,” he said.

“The Internet has brought a tremendous benefit to every aspect of daily life and we want to encourage people of all ages to engage, explore, learn and experience the value it can bring – however education is fundamental to keep everyone armed with the knowledge of how to browse safely.”

As a result, ESET has launched the UK’s first awards scheme to recognise individuals and organisations across the UK that are leading initiatives to educate others about Internet safety. Named the CyberSmart Awards, the scheme is supported by the UK Safer Internet Centre – the organisation behind Safer Internet Day on 5 February.

Image: Lars Plougmann, Flickr