With the summer holidays in full swing and millions of children across the UK spending time on social networking sites, parents are being urged to monitor what their children are doing online.
According to a YouGov survey carried out by BroadbandChoices.co.uk, 84 per cent of parents across the UK said they rate verbal agreement with their children as their number one way of monitoring online activity.
The poll also asked children aged 11-16 what they spent the most time doing online during the school holidays. This revealed that 48 per cent download music, 45 per cent use chat rooms to make new friends online and 40 per cent use social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.
These results have child safety implications as well as legal and financial ones. They are particularly significant in light of the government's announcement that parents are to be punished if their child downloads music and films illegally. Households can be blacklisted and have their internet access curbed or suspended if they don't follow the rules, meaning parents will be forced to take stronger measures to supervise their child's online activity.
Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said: "We were surprised to learn that such a high proportion of parents heavily rely on verbal agreements to ensure their children's online activities are safe and legal. Children are often more tech-savvy than their parents and the click of a mouse can take them anywhere. This research highlights the need for parents to be aware of the simple checks they can put in place to safeguard children who are increasingly using the internet to build new relationships.
"As well as the possible safety issues, there are financial implications to your child's internet activities. With 48 per cent downloading music online, it would be easy to exceed your broadband fair usage limit leaving unsuspecting parents out of pocket at the end of the month."
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