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Parents Failing to Keep Kids Safe Online in the UK

UK children at risk of seeing upsetting digital content

Keeping kids in the UK safe online is a hot topic at the moment, with video-on-demand watchdog ATVOD recently urging the UK government to do more to protect children from seeing graphic adult material. However, in a statement made on Safer Internet Day (February 11), Neelie Kroes, European commissioner for the Digital Agenda, said that governments should not be held wholly responsible for keeping kids safe online. Parents, she said, should shoulder most of the responsibility.

In the UK, parents clearly could do more to keep their kids safer in the digital realm. According to March 2014 data from uSwitch, large numbers of parents with children under the age of 16 had failed to put in place any parental controls on their kids’ internet-connected devices. Somewhat alarmingly, 58% of survey respondents said they had failed to do so on their child’s personal smartphone, for example.

This is an issue that’s likely to become increasingly relevant as more and more kids become digital device users. eMarketer estimates that in 2014, there will be 4.4 million smartphone users in the UK under 18. The youngest portion of those users, the 0-to-11 age group, will see substantial growth in usage this year, rising 22.7%. Only those 55 and older will see bigger growth in usage.

The story is similar for tablet users, with children 11 and younger set to see the second-strongest user growth rates in 2014, eMarketer estimates. This all adds up to a lot of kids being potentially left open to a lot of inappropriate content.

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