Most Parents Concerned Kids Could Encounter Predators Online

August 3, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Privacy & Security | Social Media | Women | Youth & Gen X

Eight in ten (77%) parents with children between the ages of 12 and 17, inclusive, are concerned that their child could encounter sexual predators online, with a majority (51%) indicating that they are “very concerned” and a quarter (26%) saying they are “somewhat concerned,” according to an Ipsos Reid poll of Canadian parents.

According to the results of the Ipsos survey:

  • Parents are also concerned with their child potentially encountering pornographic websites (74%), fraudulent scams (70%), inappropriate language (68%), and cyber-bullying (60%).
  • In an attempt to monitor the content of websites that their children are visiting, almost two thirds (62%) of Canadian parents say that they have visited the websites that their child has visited.
  • Similarly, two thirds (65%) use their internet browser’s history function on an ongoing basis to see what sites their child has been visiting.
  • Furthermore, two thirds (66%) of parents monitor the online activities of their child while on the computer at home.
  • Women (65%) are more likely than men (56%) to say they have visited the websites that their children visit in order to monitor content. Women (67%) are also more likely than men (61%) to use their browser’s history function for this purpose.
  • Most Canadian parents (92%) have discussed the possible dangers of the internet with their children.
  • Three quarters (74%) have sat down and clearly communicated what are acceptable and not acceptable online activities.
  • Equally, 74% have instructed their child on what to do if they are contacted by a stranger online.
  • A similar proportion asks children about who they are chatting to online (77%), and explicitly asks their children about which websites they are visiting (74%).
  • However, only half (49%) of Canadian parents with children aged 12-17 are familiar with their child’s online aliases.
  • Also, when asked about their familiarity with some common online products that their children might be using, many Canadians claimed that they were not familiar with some of these products:
    • Just 11% were unfamiliar with instant-messaging products.
    • One quarter (26%) of parents were unfamiliar with YouTube, despite its increased coverage in the media.
    • One third of parents with at least one child aged 12-17 were unfamiliar with blogs (31%) and MySpace (32%).
    • Despite its popularity among young people, four in ten (41%) Canadian parents were unfamiliar with Facebook
  • If their child were a victim of any sort of negative experience online, only half (53%) of Canadian parents say they know whom to contact.
  • Also, only six in ten (58%) know where to download parental control software, and just 54% know where do find materials to help them or their children become informed about internet safety.
  • One quarter (22%) of Canadian parents do not know where to find any of these materials.
  • Just over one third (36%) of parents are initiating parental controls on their internet browser; even fewer (31%) are posting rules for their children to follow by the computer.

About the study: The findings are from an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Symantec from May 29 to June 2, 2007. For the survey, a representative randomly selected sample of 1093 adults across Canada, with at least one child between the ages of 12 and 17 inclusive, who also have access to the internet at home, was interviewed online. The data were weighted to ensure that the sample’s regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.

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