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One in five parents have been ‘shocked’ by content they have discovered on their children’s emails, texts or Facebook account, a new report has found. The alarmingly high figure emerged amid a study of 2,000 parents of kids aged 10-17, which showed 61% regularly snoop on their kids.
It also emerged that one in five mums and dads are convinced their offspring lie about their age to gain access to social networking sites.
More than one in ten parents have had to deal with their child being bullied online, and a whopping 17% have had to intervene after their child was threatened.
What’s more concerning is that 23% of parents said their child didn’t know the perpetrator.
It’s no wonder then that one in four parents have confessed their snooping to their children because they were so concerned about what they found.
The worrying stats were revealed following a study by internet and mobile security firm BullGuard, which revealed the average child doesn’t actually know 40% of the people they are friends with on Facebook.
Alex Balan, Head of Product Management at BullGuard said:
”Parents do face a real moral dilemma as to whether they should check what their children are doing online.
”It’s understandable to want to keep tabs on the sites that they are visiting but whether to read private emails, texts and messages poses a real quandary for parents.
”Whilst you want to look out for your child and ensure they are safe you also want them to be technologically savvy and have their own independence.”
The study also found around 38% of parents believe they would lose their child’s trust completely if they confessed to snooping.
A more discreet 37% had brought up the issues they were concerned about but hadn’t let on they had seen private content on their child’s computer or phone.
Researchers also found 30% of concerned parents admit that although they were aware they were invading their child’s privacy they felt it was necessary in order to keep tabs on who they were talking to online.
Reading emails, texts and messages were the most popular way for parents to spy on their kids, as well as checking recent call lists and monitoring their internet history.
But nearly a third were wracked with guilt after hacking into their child’s email or Facebook account.
Of the parents who took part, just one in ten said they knew the passwords to their kids’ smartphone or computer despite their son or daughter trying to keep it private.
And 34% of parents of kids aged 10-17 said they have no idea what the passwords are to their kids’ gadgets.
The main areas of concerns for parents were who their kids were talking to online, how much time they spend on the internet and the type of sites they are visiting.
Half of parents said their biggest concerns when it came to social networking sites were that their children could be talking to complete strangers.
Distracting them from school work, posting suggestive pictures, declaring the family is on holiday and leaving the house empty and coming across as boastful were other concerns for parents.
One in five parents said their kids weren’t aware of ‘stranger danger’ whilst online but 30% of parents admitted they had no idea how to safeguard their kids by keeping their gadgets safe.
Alex Balan, Head of Product Management at BullGuard added:
”It’s a minefield for parents, whilst you want your children to have freedom and make friends you want to ensure they are safe when they are online.
”It’s hard enough watching your children 24/7 in the real world, but keeping tabs on their movements online is the real challenge. BullGuard‘s Identity Protection offers Facebook protection for parents concerned about what their children are being exposed to such as cyber bullying, social predators or inappropriate content.”
TOP 10 WAYS THAT PARENTS SNOOP
1. Reading messages on social networking sites
2. Checking their internet history
3. Reading their text messages
4. Monitoring their list of friends on social networking sites
5. Checking their pictures on social networking sites
6. Reading their emails
7. Checking their call list
8. Finding out their passwords
9. Asking teachers to keep an eye on their internet use
10. Getting a sibling to help to snoop