Parents' perception of their children's internet usage 

The latest study conducted by the Save the Children organisation sheds light on the alarming gap between parental awareness and children's online experiences. It revealed that 1 in 10 parents are aware of their child’s negative or unpleasant online experience; the findings underscore the pressing need for improved parental engagement and understanding of internet safety. 

Date 2024-05-02 Author Romanian Safer Internet Centre Section research Topic media literacy/education Audience parents and carers, research, policy and decision makers
little girl with phone

According to the study, 4 out of 10 children have had an unpleasant experience. For example, in February 2023, 37 per cent of children reported being insulted or threatened online. However, we can estimate that only 1 in 4 online incidents involving children are known to parents.  

Additionally, most parents claim that their children spend less than three hours online per day (approximately 80 per cent of respondents).  However, the data is radically different when analysing children's responses from previous studies conducted by Save the Children; the data is fundamentally different. In 2023, three per cent of children claimed to spend less than one hour per day on the internet (compared to 30 per cent of parents), while 33 per cent stated that they navigate for more than 4 hours (versus 19 per cent of parents).  

Parents are less aware of children's activity on social networks. Among parents with children over the age of 10, approximately 4 out of 10 say their child has a profile on a social network. Nevertheless, the study shows that 9 out of 10 children said they have access to at least one social network. Daily monitoring of a child's internet activity decreases significantly with the child's age, from 92 per cent for children under 5 years old, to72 per cent for children aged 5-10, 50 per cent for 11-15-year-olds, and 21 per cent for children over 16 years old.  

The study indicates that 1 in 10 parents claim that their child has had a negative or unpleasant experience on the internet, with a maximum of 13 per cent in the 11-15 age group and a minimum of 3 per cent among children under 5 years old. Compared to children's responses from previous studies, 1 in 4 unpleasant online incidents are not known to parents.  

The findings underscore the need for improved parental awareness and engagement regarding children's online activities. With significant disparities between parental perceptions and children's reported experiences, there is a clear imperative for enhanced communication and education on internet safety. 

You can read more about the study on parent perceptions of children and adolescents' internet use on our website. Alternatively, find more information about the work of the Romanian Safer Internet Centre, including their awareness raising, helpline, hotline, and youth participation services – or find similar information for other Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe

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