One in 10 parents now talk to their children about online safety when they are as young as five years old, research reveals today. With more children online than ever before, half of all parents have talked to them about using the internet safely by the time they reach 10. As e-safety is placed firmly on the new school curriculum, one in 12 look to schools for guidance on how to approach the subject. But parents struggle to discuss the subject themselves; the survey of parents of children aged four to 12 by Disney's Club Penguin shows.
Adults say they are more confident discussing where babies come from, puberty and race issues than staying safe online. This has meant 45 per cent of parents have shied away from bringing up the subject altogether. One in five (21 per cent) are not sure about what their children do online and just three in 10 believe their children always act responsibly when on the net.
The study, in partnership with e-safety organisation Internet Matters, was carried out as part of Disney's Club Penguin's on-going safety initiative, It Starts with You. Disney's Club Penguin aims to highlight that the internet is an inspiring place for children, that should be celebrated, not feared, and has designed a range of fun and educational resources to help parents start conversations with their children to ensure they stay safe online.
The study reveals one reason parents don't discuss internet safety with their child is that a third of them (35 per cent) lack confidence in their own knowledge and abilities. This means they are unsure how to equip their children how to be responsible online. Worryingly, almost one in 10 parents say they never intend to discuss the issue with their children. Seven is the most common age to have 'the talk' about internet safety.
Leading triggers for parents to bring up the subject include something a child has said about an internet experience (19 per cent), or spotting a worrying article about online safety in the press (17 per cent).
The It Starts With You campaign is supported by safety partners the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Childnet. Lucy Woodward, director at Disney's Club Penguin, said: "We understand it's not always easy for parents to have conversations about online safety. Sometimes it's just as new to parents as it is to children.
"We want to help parents make internet safety rules consistent across school and home. So we have developed these learning materials to empower parents in educating their children."
The new parent resources can be found at www.disney.co.uk/internet-safety