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UK parents do most in Europe to protect their children online

British parents are the most web-savvy in Europe when it comes to protecting their kids online.

A study released for Safer Internet Day 2009 shows that Britons take more practical action to screen their children from the dangers of the internet than anyone else in the EU. They are most likely to use filtering software (77 per cent) and most likely to talk to their children about what they do online (87 per cent).

UK parents are also among the most likely to stay near their child when they go online to check which sites they are visiting and remind them not to give out personal information.

The survey, conducted for the European Commission and analysed by the EU Kids Online research project at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), shows that British parents still worry about internet safety - with 59 per cent concerned about the dangers of their children seeing sexual or violent content. However in France - the highest - the figure is 88 per cent while in Portugal and Greece it is 84 and 81 per cent respectively.

Professor Sonia Livingstone of the LSE, Director of EU Kids Online, said: "These findings are good news for British parents - it seems that the safety message is getting through. One reason for this is that the UK has had a sustained and successful series of campaigns to make children and parents more aware of the possible dangers, while some other European countries have a long way to go.

"Another reason is that British parents are among the most likely to use the internet themselves and parents who do are less likely to be worried than those who don't."

However the study shows there are still some grounds for concern. Although British children are among the most likely in Europe to ask their parents for help if they encounter strangers, bullying or problem content online, it is still only 24 per cent who do so.

And there are some genuine risks out there, so the proportion of British parents who claim not to be at all worried may be too high: 27 per cent say they are not at all worried about sexual/violent content, 46 per cent are not at all worried about access to self-harm, suicide or pro-anorexia sites, 41% have no fears for online grooming or, so say 22%, bullying.

Professor Livingstone said: 'It is crucial that government and industry keeps up the effort to raise awareness, as the risks online keep changing. A good message for parents who are worried is - get online yourself and make sure you understand the risks and how to deal with them, as well as the opportunities your child faces on the internet.'


For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

  • Dr Leslie Haddon - L.G.Haddon@lse.ac.uk 07850 769539
  • Professor Sonia Livingstone - S.Livingstone@lse.ac.uk 07791 663698
  • or LSE Press Office 020 7955 7060 pressoffice@lse.ac.uk

For the full findings from all 27 EU countries and for further information about the EU Kids Online project www.eukidsonline.net

For information about Safer Internet Day in Europe, see www.saferinternet.org

10 February 2009