New survey shows parental concerns on children’s future addictive behaviours

To mark Safer Internet Day (SID) 2021, the Greek Safer Internet Centre released new research findings highlighting parents’ concerns with regards to restoring the balance between their children’s offline and online lives and their anxieties related to potential future addictive behaviours by children.

2021-03-05 Greek Safer Internet Centre awareness, sid excessive use media specialist, parents and carers, research, policy and decision makers
Mother putting a mask on her daughter's face

The survey was conducted online and involved 1,750 parents of children aged 9-12 in 40 per cent of the cases, and of children aged 6-8 in 23 per cent of the cases.

Within the research, many parents reported that due to long hours of use, especially during lockdown, their children became more nervous, showed physical symptoms such as headaches and eye pain and acquired new online habits such as chatting with other users who they do not necessarily known in real life, as well as online gaming and social media use. However, there are many who indicate that they see their children’s familiarity with the online world as something positive.

According to the results of the research, parents’ main concern is the impact online content has on children (69 per cent), followed immediately by the amount of time they spend on the internet (64 per cent). Interestingly, the child's online reputation is not a topic of particular concern for parents, with only 10 per cent claiming to be concerned about this issue. Similarly, only 32 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about their child potentially having contacts with strangers online.

49 per cent of parents say they have some control over their child's online activities, while 35 per cent state they have an absolute control, and 13 per cent have no control. 11 per cent of respondents say they do not know who their child is chatting with online. 56 per cent of them answered that they talk very often with their children about the safe use of the internet, while 29 per cent talk about it sometimes, and 16 per cent talk about rarely or not at all. 

81 per cent of parents set limits on how much time their child can spend online on a daily basis. In fact, 54 per cent of respondents state that they have sufficient knowledge to teach their children how to protect themselves online, and only 24 per cent of parents are rarely informed about the dangers of the digital world. Parental control tools are used on a permanent or occasional basis by 48 per cent of respondents, while 18 per cent say they would like to but do not know how to use them.

On the other hand, about half of the parents are not aware of the PEGI age rating label and 72 per cent do not know what the PEGI content symbols mean. However, almost all respondents believe that these markings are a tool in the hands of parents and would like to know in advance what potentially harmful content is contained in the audiovisual material that the child will see. However, only 2 per cent of respondents have criticised age marking or marking harmful content in public databases.

For more information, you can view the infographic summarising the main findings of the survey (in English).

Find out more about the work of the Greek Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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