NSPCC: Kids' web security 'as important as road safety'

Rebecca Williams, Correspondent

Only a fifth of parents are having frequent conversations with their children about online safety, a report has found.

The NSPCC and O2 have today launched a campaign, highlighting the potential dangers associated with the internet and social media.

The actress and comedian, Catherine Tate, who is supporting the initiative said: "As a parent you teach your child how to cross the road and then about 'stranger danger'.

"But it can be harder to know how to keep them safe online, especially when the speed with which new apps and games appear outwits even the best of us."

In a survey, just 19% of parents said they regularly speak to their children about the dangers associated with the internet, and the importance of enhanced security settings.

When asked, 80% of children felt social media companies should be doing more to protect them from online abuse.

At Brymore Academy in Somerset, some pupils admitted that their parents knew exactly what they got up to on the internet, whilst others didn't.

Toby Ransen, 14, told Sky News: "They don't talk to me about the location settings... but at school we have filters and stuff like that."

Meanwhile, Nick Payne said: "My parents talk to me about stuff like my security settings and what not to look at and how to keep myself safe.

"I don't think there is much more because then it's my decision if I follow that or if I do other stuff, so it's up to me from then onwards."

The Share Aware campaign is offering advice and tools for parents to help them talk about and explore their child's online world.

A new animation video, featuring Catherine Tate, has also been released to advise parents on how best to agree boundaries.

But at Brymore, some parents admitted that keeping tabs on children isn't easy, because they themselves aren't always familiar with certain sites being used, like SnapChat.

Head of Child Online Safety at the NSPCC, Claire Lilley told Sky News: "Parents are the first point of call for a child when it comes to staying safe in real life and this is not different when it comes to their online life.

"Talking to your child and exploring their online world with them is the best way to keep them safe, but it can be hard to keep up to speed with the internet and some topics can feel more difficult than others."

In recent years, a number of stories involving youngsters who have been targeted online have made the headlines.

And the warning is that internet safety should be just as important as teaching a child how to cross the road.

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