TODAY IS SAFER INTERNET DAY 2014, and if the reports are to be believed it has not come a day or a year too soon.
British streets, pockets, sofas, lounges, bathrooms and bed times are full of smartphone and tablet risks and most parents don't have a clue about the risks they present to the family.
We do not mean that they will blow up, this happens only very rarely, but that they are full of other risks. Research carried out by Safer Internet Day revealed a pretty poor scorecard for parents talking to and teaching their offspring about the dangers of the internet.
In a day of events the message that more talking has to be done will be spread far and wide. There is talking already and around two-thirds of parents have wagged a finger a furrowed a brow about at least one online safety issue. Almost half, 43 percent, limited this to their views on online pornography.
Fewer parents, one in five, have spoken with their children about how to report an issue online. This could be anything from bullying to seeing inappropriate material. But a third have talked about what they should do if something upsets them. This suggests a disconnect between parents knowing that something should be done and doing that something.
Kids, for their part, are worried that there are too many people being unkind online, proving that the young remain as perceptive as ever. Meanwhile a lacklustre 23 percent of parents have spoken with their offspring about being a better person online.
One working parent, David Cameron of Westminster, has thrown his weight and support behind the campaign.
"I'm delighted to support Safer Internet Day and the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre. As a father of young children, I know how much parents worry about what their kids can see online," said the prime minister.
"Under this Government, we have seen progress, with the introduction of family friendly filters and Google and Microsoft clamping down on child abuse images online. There is nothing more important than protecting our children; Government, industry, charity and parents all have a part to play."
Today Microsoft's UK offices will play host to a Safer Internet Day jamboree. Key speakers at that event include a politician and Beth Tweddle, Olympic gymnast and Dancing on Ice star.
According to a separate report from Kaspersky Lab a quarter of parents believe that their kids have been exposed to risks online, yet only a fifth have done anything about it. Around the same number of people have lost money as a result of their childrens' uncoached interactions with an expensive piece of hardware.
"Regardless of how their children are accessing the internet, parents must remain vigilant, supervise their internet use and consider parental control technologies. However, as a parent myself, I find these statistics particularly worrying when you consider the increasing number of children using connected smartphones today," said David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
"After all, when children use mobile devices to access the web, they are using the same internet, with the same risks - yet parents are often not as aware of the dangers."
The advice is to use parental controls where they are available, and for goodness sake, lock down in-app purchases.
"The internet is an incredible resource, both for social use and in an educational capacity. But in the same way as we would teach our children to cross the road safely, we must teach them to be aware of, and respect, the dangers of the internet," added Emm.
"Just because a threat is out of sight, it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep it front of mind." µ
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