Parents have serious concerns about what their children are being exposed to online 5 years ago

Parents have serious concerns about what their children are being exposed to online

Today marks the UN's International Day of Families - a day dedicated to raising awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth.

A new survey of 10,000 parents, launched to coincide with the day, has shown that many parents are concerned about unhealthy material that their children may be exposed to online such as adult or sexual content, hate or intolerance, and exposure to inappropriate pop-up ads for alcohol, tobacco and gambling websites.

The research, carried out by the consumer security company BullGuard, revealed that blocking children’s access to inappropriate content is the main priority of 92 percent of parents when it comes to online safety.

A further 62 percent said monitoring children’s activity online was their main reason for using parental control software while 49 percent said setting limits around internet usage was their priority.

So, how much time should my child be spending online?

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We spoke to Dr David Carey, HerFamily's resident child psychologist, who had this advice for parents and caregivers:

"We live in the era now where we have huge stresses and tensions with technology, screentime, and social media.

A lot of kids by age 10 or 11 are getting their first mobile phones. Many, many children have mobiles, and this becomes a link in this movement towards independence, they quickly learn that by going on social media it’s a way of dismissing parents completely and they can distance themselves from their parents.

We have all these tensions during these years, making parenting more complicated, but the bad news is that it becomes incredibly more complicated as they turn into teenagers."

Dr Carey says that parents need to understand how important the online world is to tweens and teens:

"There are changes in the brain, there are changes in behaviour, and we essentially need to change how we parent our children in these years to a small degree.

We need to face up to the reality that social media is the way in which all young people communicate about all social events, nobody picks up the phone and make s a call anymore. If you restrict tweens 100% from usage, you run the risk of disengaging them from their own social world.

There has to be limits – I would say, an hour per day for 8-9 year-olds, for 10-12 year-olds, two hours max. No phones in the bedroom, no use of phones in the family car to and from events, family car time is an opportunity to have some discussion."

Join the conversation on Twitter @HerFamilydotie