Research Reveals Parents' Online Concerns

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According to new research, more than half of parents cite inappropriate people such as strangers or child predators and content such as adult imagery or depicted violence as the biggest online threats they perceive to their children. But it found that only about a third of them know that there are parental control tools available that can help insulate kids from these perceived threats.

That's the finding of a nationwide survey done by Panda Security, a company that sells IT security products. The study was conducted on the Safecount Viewpoint Community to learn more about what parents, caregivers, and educators actually know about the evolving online behaviors of children. The survey gathered responses from 2,372 participants.

Panda has just launched a new Web site for parents and teachers focused on the topic. "Protect Our Kids on the Web" includes online resources, games, and videos to increase awareness about the evolving online behaviors of children and their families.

Fifty-three percent of respondents ranked inappropriate people and content as their biggest concern. And while 71 percent speak with their children about online safety, only 32 percent were aware of available tools, such as parental controls.

Among other findings:

  • 27 percent worry the most that children will give out personal information, and 17 percent rank viruses, worms, and other malware as the most dangerous threat;
  • About a third of respondents said they monitor their children's online activity all of the time, while one-third monitor activity "sometimes" and one-quarter never monitor their children's online activities;
  • Of the 58 percent of respondents who know their children chat online, 14 percent said they don't know who their child is talking to, and only 52 percent know what their child's online username is; and
  • 7 percent said either they or their child have been a victim of an online "attack."

"While there are certainly a lot of great products designed to keep kids safe online, technology is just a part of the solution," said Penny Sherstobitoff, Panda's COO. "What's most important is that parents maintain an open dialogue with their children about the Internet and how they use it, whether for entertainment, social networking, or learning."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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