By Kimberly O’Brien
Australia’s mums and dads report feeling guilty, anxious and embarrassed when it comes to their kids’ online behaviours, according to new research from internet parental control service FamilyEye by Yomojo.
A national survey of more than 1,000 adults with children aged up to 18 years found more than two-thirds (70%) of parents report feeling anxious and guilty for not knowing what their children get up to online. A further seven-in-ten Aussie parents also admit to letting their kids browse the internet unaccompanied.
The survey found 73 per cent reported feeling out of their depth when it comes to educating their children on internet safety – with one-third of Aussies anxious or embarrassed about the issue, particularly when it comes to the topic of chat room strangers, sexually explicit and violent content.
But while many parents feel at sea, when it came to seeking advice on navigating kids’ internet safety the survey found two-thirds turn to their partner (33%), friend (15%) or family (9%), and good-old Google* (20%).
Child psychologist Dr Kimberley O’Brien acknowledged the proper management of smartphone and internet use – and at times, misuse – can be an unexplored territory for modern-day parents.
“Opening the lines of communication between parent and child is pivotal. A close relationship encourages free-flowing dialogue and the opportunity for children to express their worries and concerns, especially when it comes to cyber safety”.
The survey also unveiled parents’ online concerns, which saw them rank too much time playing video games (30%), viewing violent videos online and exposure to bullying (26%, respectively) as the top three. Interestingly, a relatively minor amount of those polled (6%) went on to cite viewing pornography as a concern.
“Even the most responsible parents report that constantly monitoring their child’s online activity is a massive challenge. This leaves many parents feeling guilty and uncertain about what their child may have been exposed to without their knowledge,” Dr O’Brien said.
Asked to nominate the top concern when it came to their children’s development, 59 per cent cited physical and mental health, 20 per cent education, 12 per cent social media use and the effects of long-term technology – and 10 per cent bullying.^
Furthermore, almost six-in-10 respondents confirmed the use of an online monitoring tool to facilitate safer internet consumption – and, only 2% of those polled noting they ‘disagree with monitoring’ kid’s internet use.
The nation’s parents also agreed 10–13 years was the most popular age (48%) at which to purchase a child their first smartphone (or tablet), followed by 5–9 years (24%) and 14–16 years (15%).**
Top Tips for Parents
- Be mindful when children are on playdates – While you may have your own rules at home, this might not apply at your child’s friend’s house. Check in with their parents to set boundaries around internet use before a playdate.
- Be consistent in parenting when it comes to online rules – It’s important for parents to live by the same rules and disciplines when it comes to online usage. Have regular conversations with your partner to ensure consistency – this will help your child clearly establish guidelines.
- Use a parental control app – Set boundaries by using a parental control app to help track, monitor and protect your child’s safety online.
- Keep laptops and phones where you can see them – To ensure your child is safe online, it’s always best for them to use devices where visible – such as in the family lounge room, rather than their bedroom.
- Set limits on your own screen use – Be a good role model on healthy habits for your child – this also allows more uninterrupted time together.
* Reported as ‘online sources’ – breakdown includes: parenting websites (47%), forums (18%), social media channels (18%), news media (10%), other (6.5%) and celebrities and digital influencers (0.5%). A further 11% turn to parenting experts (doctors and child psychologists). ^ 6% reported ‘other’. ** 10% reported under 5 years, while 3% reported over 16 years.
About the Report
Pure Profile commissioned research on behalf of FamilyEye®. The research was conducted online in March 2019, among a sample size of 1012 Australian parents with children aged up to 18 years (representative by state and gender).
FamilyEye® by Yomojo® is an internet parental control service, offering powerful monitoring solutions to keep children safe. FamilyEye™ is app controlled, allowing parents to protect, monitor, track and empower their kids. Joining the Yomojo family is quick and easy, sign up today at yomojo.com.au or phone 1300 YOMOJO (1300 966 656).
Dr Kimberley O’Brien is one of Australia’s most trusted and recognised child psychologists. Counting more than 20 years’ experience working locally and internationally, Dr O’Brien is a parenting, child health and mental health expert and co-founder of the Quirky Kid Clinic.