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British children missing out on online safety training

Online safety is not being taught to children and young people due to parents’ lack of knowledge on the matter, research gathered by internet security company ESET has suggested.

It has been claimed that many parents feel inadequately prepared to teach their children about online safety, with one in four believing their children know more about the internet than they do.

With 50 per cent of British nine to 16 year olds not receiving formal education about internet safety, even the Cabinet has recognised the need for increased knowledge about online dangers, launching a campaign to raise awareness especially in schools.

Around three quarters of parents surveyed monitor their children’s online activity, with 23 percent managing to do so without their children’s knowledge.

However, it is the internet savvy retained by the younger generation that is managing to outfox their parents, with 40 percent of young people clearing their browsing history to hide their visited sites, and almost a third admitting they have online accounts their parents are unaware of. The ease and ability of faking your age online also means that over half of the children surveyed have lied to gain access to a site.

In an attempt to combat the rising problem of online safety education, ESET has launched the first internet safety awards scheme, the CyberSmart awards. Aimed to recognise individuals and organisations across the country, with a £5,000 grant available for those providing initiatives to educate young people about online dangers.

The research shows young people are either unaware or unaffected by risks posed by the internet, with 84 percent of children aged nine to 16 believing they should be allowed to browse unsupervised, and 70 percent of that being children only nine years old.

“Online safety is the modern day ‘birds and bees’ conversation; it evokes dread and nervousness in parents who feel ill-prepared to teach their child the dos and don’ts of the world,” says Mark James, Technical Director of ESET UK. “The research shows that two thirds of parents believe its primarily their role to educate children about online safety, above schools, the police or the Government, however their own online behaviours are questionable.”

The CyberSmart awards are an attempt to encourage more schools and organisations to teach our young people about how to be safe online, and are supported by the UK Safer Internet Centre, which is responsible for the Safer Internet Day on February 5th.

David Wright, head of the UK Safer Internet Centre said: “Just like the real world, the online environment is constantly changing – there are new and evolving platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and Google , and different ways of accessing the Internet, through phones and tablet devices. It creates a complex landscape that is challenging to navigate safely. That’s why sharing best practises is more important than ever before.”

Do you think internet safety should be taught in schools or is it a parental responsibility to educate their children? Give us your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages or via the comment boxes below.

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