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At Beano.com, we’re passionate about children’s content. We work everyday to make sure that the kids who visit our website and app are encouraged to laugh – and they are kept safe whilst doing so. Sadly, that’s not the case everywhere else on the internet.

We teamed up with YouGov and mental health charity Young Minds to ask British parents how they feel about their children’s safety online. The results paint a clear picture. Nearly three-quarters of parents think the internet isn’t a safe place for children, while the great majority feel it’s been entirely left up to them as carers to ensure their child’s online safety.

The internet is a great thing – it’s letting the Beano entertain new audiences the world over for starters! It certainly isn’t the ‘big bad wolf’ some scaremongers might make it out to be. And let’s be realistic, older kids being online is an everyday given. But more needs to be done to allow for safer entertainment experiences online – and to help relieve some of the pressure on parents.

You can read more about the study below.

-Emma Scott

73% OF BRITISH PARENTS SAY THE INTERNET IS NOT A SAFE PLACE FOR KIDS

A state of the nation report from Beano.com has uncovered that three-quarters of parents do not believe the internet is a safe place for children. Less than a quarter (24%) say it is safe for kids to go online without an adult supervising.

As a result, an overwhelming majority of British parents feel the burden for ensuring their children remain safe whilst online, lies with them. When asked to suggest who should be responsible for ensuring the safety of their children using the internet, a resounding 95% felt that the onus is on themselves.

“It’s like teaching your child to cross the road: you’ll make sure they hold your hand when they’re very young, but as they grow older you want them to assess the risks and stay safe more independently.”

When asked who should be taking responsibility, nearly two thirds (64%) said the internet platforms, such as Google, should be leaders, whilst 42% opted for the Government and 42% picked school teachers. 16% of parents added that they expect older brothers or sisters to supervise younger children.

Ahead of Safer Internet Day on 6 February, the study of 2,000 parents of 6-12 year olds was commissioned by the media organisation to mark its new partnership with youth charity Young Minds and shine a light on the issues and concerns that parents face raising their children in fully digital age.

The data also unearthed how parents do try to ‘police’ their child’s internet use. In fact, 30% even tell their children that they are able to monitor what sites they are visiting as a safety measure, despite not actually being able to. This percentage increases as kids get older – the figure reaches 39% for those with 11-year olds and 44% with 12-year olds.

71% of parents admitted that they did not understand how Snapchat works, whilst 55% said the same for Instagram.

The research also found that 69% of 6-12 year olds are more likely to use YouTube. Just 36% use the child-friendly YouTube Kids platform. Of those children who use YouTube, 64% of 10-year olds and 80% of 12-year olds are allowed to explore the platform unsupervised.

Last month YouTube came under fire from critics when one of its most followed stars, Logan Paul, who is popular with children, uploaded a video showing the body of a suicide victim.

The audience going online in the UK is getting younger and younger – as over three quarters of kids (76%) aged just 6 have access to internet enabled devices such as smartphones. By age 10 this is 92%, and 96% for 12-year olds.

A lack of awareness about popular social media sites was also revealed. 71% of parents admitted that they did not understand how Snapchat works, whilst 55% said the same for Instagram.

However, despite all these issues, many parents do say that their child’s internet usage can be a good thing. 40% feel that it has a positive impact on their relationships with friends, whilst 30% felt the same about their child’s relationship with their family and 33% said it impacts positively on their overall satisfaction with life. 57% of parents have spoken to their child by the age of 6 about this, informing them how to use the internet in a positive way.

Emma Scott, CEO of Beano Studios – which includes Beano.com – commented: “It is a real shame to see parents across the UK feeling so personally responsible for the online safety of their children. I hope that our findings will be taken on board by other media organisations and those in power, to ensure more thought and consideration goes into the content being created, as well as the online destinations our children actually visit. Whilst there is a lot of internet-scaremongering, it is refreshing to see 40% of parents find child’s internet usage has a positive impact on their friendships. Internet safety and children’s online consumption is an important theme Beano.com will return to throughout the year.”

Emma Saddleton, Parents Helpline Manager at YoungMinds added: “The internet offers lots of amazing opportunities, but this research shows just how worried many parents are about the impact it can have on their children. Parents can’t police everything their child does online, so it’s important to have regular conversations about the internet from a young age, to take an interest in the apps and games your child is using and to set realistic boundaries.”

“It’s like teaching your child to cross the road: you’ll make sure they hold your hand when they’re very young, but as they grow older you want them to assess the risks and stay safe more independently. Above all, it’s important to stay involved in what your child’s doing online. By reassuring them that they can always talk to you openly if they’re upset by something, parents can make a big difference.”

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2018 parents of children aged 6 to 12. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th – 17th January 2018. The survey was carried out online.*