Ofcom on parental controls: Tablets “device of choice” for kids
Following a request from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and government requests to UK ISPs with regards to the implementation of network-level filters, Ofcom has produced the first of three reports on internet security measures to aid parental protection for children using the internet.
The DCMS has requested the reports on parental controls be focused on the take up, knowledge and confidence of parents using them.
According to Ofcom, the use of tablets to access the internet has trebled in the last 12 months and is now the “device of choice” of most 8-11 year olds, with audiovisual content and games the most accessed.
With regards to higher age groups, many children aged 12-15 own a smartphone and use it to interact with their peers.
Both types of access present risks. Whilst most parents believe their children use the internet safely – and trust them to do so – many parents also report having worries about cyberbullying and downloading viruses.
One in five worry about who their child may be in contact with.
When talking isn’t enough
Although many parents believe that speaking to their child about online activity will help to keep them safe online, there are also a range of technical tools and security measures available to parents with concerns.
Over 40 percent of parents with children aged 5-15 have parental controls such as safe-search settings, internet time-limiting software, which limits the amount of time a child can spend online, and safety modes on websites such as YouTube.
A third of children watch television content on the internet, and some parents report using a pin or password to limit access to services with guidance levels.
Of those parents who have not taken up any of the above strategies, the main reason behind this appears to be the level of trust or supervision they have with their children.
However, some parents still have a lack of knowledge of how to efficiently use the tools available to them in order to apply parental controls.