Physical safety - or online safety: Which worries parents most?

A new survey of 2000 mums and dads with school-age children found overwhelming agreement: It’s harder than ever to let kids be kids.

The reason? Technology of course. Fully eight out of ten parents said raising children was harder today than 30 years ago. And an even greater number agreed that today’s digital kids are growing up too fast.

Yet most of us have mixed feelings about technology. On the one hand, we appreciate its tremendous benefits in the everyday lives of our children - and are allowing access at ever-earlier ages. On the other hand, worry about the impact of all that screen-time on their safety and wellbeing.

This research found a quarter of parents allowed their child internet access between ages three and five. And most kids owned their own device by age seven.

At the time of the survey, conducted by OnePoll in 2021, parents reported their children were spending 43% of their free time - that is, not counting remote schooling - on a connected device. 

A quarter of parents allow their child internet access between ages three and five. And most kids owned their own device by age seven.

Other recent findings suggest 43% may be an understatement. A landmark report released by Common Sense Media found kids aged eight to 12 were clocking up an average of six hours a day on digital media - again, school-time aside. 

The OnePoll study also asked parents about their concerns for their children’s wellbeing. You may or may not be surprised to learn that the two biggest worries were around physical safety (31%) and online safety (30%) - a very nearly even split.

That’s pretty astonishing, when you consider that even a decade ago online safety was barely on the horizon for most families.

So what digital risks do today’s mums and dads worry most about? This research found the two top concerns were negative or dangerous interactions on social media (55%) and exposure to inappropriate content (54%).

ChildTabletSurprise

Cyberbullying and violent video games were also a concern, but to a much lesser degree, cited respectively by 38% and 23%.

A majority of parents admitted they wrestle with their children over screen-time. And, on a brighter note, an even larger proportion  - 86% - said they have regular discussions about online safety with their school-age kids. 

What digital risks do today’s mums and dads worry most about? This research found the two top concerns were negative or dangerous interactions on social media (55%) and exposure to inappropriate content (54%).

Nearly half told researchers they impose daily limits on screen-time, with 42% making use of parental control tools to manage device use and block inappropriate content. 




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Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online safety, Social Media, digital parenting, online pornography

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