According to a recent research, 9 out of 10 parents fail to install safety measures on their mobile phones to prevent their children from accessing objectionable material on the internet.
The study was a part of a guide published by Clinical Psychologist and television presenter, Professor Tanya Byron – who has been advising the U.K Government on child internet safety since 2007, in order to advise parents how to go about ensuring their child’s safety on the internet. The guide, which was published by Byron along with retailer Carephone Warehouse, found that 85 per cent of parents had not even bothered to activate locks on their child’s mobile phone and as a result their children are at risk of accessing pornography on mobile phones.
Unawareness of Parents: Most parents have not activated controls because they did not think they were necessary, or were unaware that protection was available. This was despite more than two-thirds of parents admitting they were worried about what their children could access from their mobile phones. With the rise of smartphone technology, many parents are unaware that risks to their children, like inappropriate content, identity theft and cyber-bullying are now as significant on the mobile phone as they are on the computer. And yet, compelling new research shows that over three quarters (85%) of children with smartphones don’t have parental controls activated. The National Literacy Trust found that children are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book. After surveying 17,000 pupils aged seven to 16 it discovered 86 per cent of pupils had their own mobile phone, compared with 73 per cent who had their own books. Earlier this year, one in five children, 19 per cent, between eight and 12 years old use social media sites such as Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, despite of these sites officially having an age limit of 13. One in six parents didn’t even know that their children are on social networks.
Dangers of Having Internet Access on Mobile Phones: Prof Byron warned that mobile phones with Wi-Fi access can get around these restrictions, so she urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of using Wi-Fi on mobile phones. Andrew Harrison, CEO of The Carphone Warehouse, said, “We know how seriously parents take internet safety when it comes to the home computer. However, the idea of mobile web safety is still a relatively new concept for many. Smartphones bring a whole host of benefits to everyday life but parents need to be savvy to children’s usage in order to avoid possible dangers. To help bring parents up to speed, we’ve developed a free booklet which includes lots of useful advice and can be found in our 800 stores across the UK. We’ve worked with Professor Tanya Byron to provide some easy to follow tips so that parents can be confident they’re helping to keep their children safe while leaving them free to enjoy all the fantastic features of their mobile phone.”
A Child Can Access Anything on Mobile Phones: As more and more technologically advanced mobile phones are being introduced in the market, it has become fairly easy for anyone to access anything, whether they are suitable for them or not. The survey published in the guide was carried out by YouGov, which interviewed around 3,000 UK parents. It was found that around half of them thought that protection was not necessary or were not even aware that such measures were available. “Online risks to children are as prevalent when they access the internet via their mobile phone as when they access it via their PC or laptop,” Byron said in a statement. “However, the two aren’t treated the same – partly because the latter is a much more recent phenomenon; the recent influx of smartphones to the market means these are no longer just for business, but accessible to a much wider proportion of the market, including children. We need to apply everything that we’ve learnt through our research so far and make sure the same understanding, precautions and restrictions are applied to children using mobile phones to guarantee their online safety.”