ESET surveys reveal ages of unsupervised children surfing the web

British parents allow their children to surf the web unsupervised years prior to the children gaining their trust to be given their own set of house keys.

An internet study conducted by ESET looked at the attitudes of 1,000 British parents toward their online habits, revealing that 22 percent of parents let their children under seven go online unsupervised when the average age is actually 9.5.

The study revealed that children will (on average) be almost 10 when given their first smartphone and allowed to install mobile apps without supervision. It was also found that children are usually 11 years old when they open their first social media account. Despite the findings, 64 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that children are using technology too young.

“Parents should be proactively encouraging their children to do internet safety courses so they are aware of how to use the internet responsibly. The training will teach children about threats on the internet and how cyber-criminals lure their victims. While it has always been strongly advised that children should be supervised when using the internet, this advice is rarely taken,” said Mark James, security specialist at ESET.

Meanwhile in Russia, almost none of the children have their own mobile gadgets or are allowed to do anything in cyber-space without supervision until they are five years old.

Another ESET study compared what 1,000 parents with children up to age 14 from the US, the UK, Germany and Russia view as the appropriate age for the first steps in their children's digital and physical life. The research discovered that parents are not happy about the fact that even small children are surrounded by modern technologies from an early age.

“This differs from Western countries, where a significant percentage of kids have access to technology long before passing that ‘milestone'. Surfing online without parental supervision is common for as many as six percent of British, eight percent of German and 10 percent of American under-fives whose parents took part in the survey,” says Ondrej Kubovič, IT security specialist at ESET.

An overwhelming 96.6 percent of Russian respondents agree or strongly agree that children are using technology and the internet too young today. Germans are more enthusiastic about children using modern technology, with 65.3 percent agreeing or strongly agreeing that they are too young.

Most parents admitted that their kids had their first social media account before they turned 11 years old. In Russia, the average age is eight years and seven months old.

ESET recommends parents update antivirus and security software, OS and applications, instruct children on internet privacy, monitor their children's internet connection, control web cameras, be wary and in control of what information is shared on social media, and lastly don't assume that information posted on the internet goes away when it's deleted. 

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