One in 10 Scots kids accessing internet without parental controls, survey finds


More than one in 10 Scottish children have access to the internet without any parental restrictions to protect from unsuitable content, a survey has found.

Parent Club today launched a new campaign – Safer Internet Day – to give parents of eight to 11-year-olds the steps they can take to keep their kids safe online.

It comes as a new poll by Censuswide found that 12 per cent of Scottish youngsters do not have parental controls activated on their online devices, Edinburgh Live reports.

In a separate survey, Ofcom discovered that some 40 per cent of children have engaged in risky behaviors while online by the age of 12, such as adding someone to their contacts that they have never met, sending a photo or video of themselves to a stranger , or doing something that they know would be against their parent’s wishes.

Lisa Gray knows this all too well. As the Covid-19 pandemic struck, her nine-year-old daughter started using the internet for everything from learning to socializing.

“She downloaded Snapchat without my knowledge and ended up speaking to someone in Canada, with the same name as one of her best friends,” said the 49-year-old.

“Luckily, I heard the Canadian accent and realized she was speaking to a stranger. It was an eye-opener and a good opportunity to talk to my daughter about online safety.”

Some 40 per cent of children have engaged in risky behaviors online by the age of 12, the survey found.
Some 40 per cent of children have engaged in risky behaviors online by the age of 12, the survey found.

In the new research for Parent Club, Censuswide found that just over half of parents ask if their child is playing online with someone they do not know, but in the real world 62 per cent would ask their children who they will be with when they go out of the house to see friends.

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And in the survey of 1,001 parents of eight to 11-year-olds in the country, they are more likely to ask their child if anyone was mean to them when they return home, at 40 per cent, with only 34 per cent asking the same question when they log off.

Jess McBeath, an online safety consultant, said it is “important that we help children to stay safe online from things like exposure to inappropriate or untrustworthy content, oversharing personal information, grooming, unauthorized spending and online bullying”.

“Talking with children regularly about what they’re doing and sharing online, using parental support tools, keeping data and devices secure, and finding ways to use technology as a family that are fun, are some simple ways to keep them safe,” she said.

The new poll of Scottish parents also revealed “where are you going?” is the top question asked by their parents when their child leaves the house in the real world, with 66 per cent asking, and in the online world “which websites or social platforms are you going on” is asked by 58 per cent of mums and Dads.

Clare Haughey, minister for children and young people, said: “We want children and young people to make the most of it to learn, communicate and collaborate” but added it was “really important that when you are online, you stay safe”.

“This year, Safer Internet Day will explore respect and relationships online. This is especially important in present times when so many of us are spending more time using technology for learning and socializing,” the SNP MSP said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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