What We Learned When We Asked 1,200 Parents about their Kids' Online Safety

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Smartphone adoption among children and teens is rapidly growing—the amount of time spent on a device now averages nine hours a day for kids between the ages of 8 and 18. As smart device usage continues to rapidly increase among kids, so do parents’ concerns about their children’s digital safety and security.

As a company that has spent over 20 years developing products that protect people from—and educate them about—Internet threats, we wanted to understand how this current generation of parents is talking to their children about online safety. So we teamed up with Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) and their network of over 70,000 parents to commission a survey on how parents are feelingtypo3/—and what they’re doing—about mobile use and Internet security issues and the associated risks.

What we found is that there’s a big disconnect between “knowing” and “doing.” While nearly all parents who responded (98%) said they believe it’s parents’ responsibility to inform and educate their kids about online safety and security, more than 30% “never” or only “sometimes” talk to their kids about it.

What does it all mean? We asked our go-to tech mom, PTPA CEO Sharon Vinderine, for her take.

“I was thrilled to see that almost 99% of parents realize it’s their responsibility to educate their children about online safety. I firmly believe the cybersafe conversation is key,” she told us.  “I was surprised, however, that many parents still don’t talk to their kids about online safety. Plus, almost 60% said it’s also the responsibility of the school systems to provide cybersafe education—despite the fact that there is no standardized or mandatory cybereducation in school!”

Many parents didn’t even know there are tech tools to help manage their child’s Internet experience, our survey found, and 45% had not used any sort of parental control app or software because they were not sure which one to use.

“All this data shows that we need to do more to educate parents to help them talk to kids, and continue to expose parents to technology that make cyber parenting easier and more effective,” Sharon told us.

So far, we hope we are headed in the right direction on both on the education and product front. We recently released ESET Parental Control for Android, an app that lets parents guide their children’s online and mobile usage. We also continue our dedication to cybersafety and education with Securing Our eCity, which ESET founded in 2010 to educate the public, as well as our support of the National Cyber Security Alliance

See an infographic of our survey results, and find cyber parenting tips, at protect.eset.com/CyberParent. A PDF of complete survey findings is available here .