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Just Under Half of UK Parents and Guardians Talk to Their Children About Online Safety on a Regular Basis

An AVG survey on children’s digital independence highlights the different attitudes parents have to children’s online activities.

An AVG survey on children’s digital independence highlights the different attitudes parents have to children’s online activities.

Prague, Czech Republic, February 5, 2019: AVG Online Security has found that only 42% of parents and guardians globally, and 48% in the UK, talk to their children on a regular basis about their online activities. This is according to an online survey* on the level of independence children have online which AVG conducted with parents and guardians ahead of this year’s Safer Internet Day. The slogan for this year’s Safer Internet Day is “Together for a better internet” and our survey shows that despite the increasingly digital lifestyle enjoyed by many families, online safety is still not a regular household topic of conversation. 


The study found that two out of five parents and guardians globally (37% in the UK)  have infrequent conversations with their child regarding online activities. Of those that do not discuss online safety much, 10% stated that they simply do not want to; 4% said that they would not feel comfortable; and 3% would like to, but get shut out by their children. In the UK, the responses were similar:10% of parents prefer not to have the conversation; 2% don’t feel comfortable talking their children about their online activities; and 3% said their children won’t let them. 


“In order for the internet to be a safer place, adults and children need to be able to discuss what is appropriate online behavior and what to do if a child sees or becomes engaged with an activity that makes them uncomfortable. Having open and honest conversations are one of the best defenses against online predators, inappropriate content and cyberbullying,” said Jas Dhaliwal, Consumer Security Expert at AVG. “Until a child reaches an age where both the parents and the child feel they are mature enough to make decisions pertaining to online activities independently, such conversations are vital.” 


Digital Independence 

When asked how they would define digital independence, 46% of parents and guardians across the globe (49% in the UK) said: ‘When my child is fully responsible for what they post and do online as they understand the implications or consequences’. A further 26% globally (24% in the UK) said their child would be considered digitally independent after they had a conversation around the types of content suitable for sharing on appropriate platforms. 


Age of Independence

When it comes to the age at which a child can be considered digitally independent, the most popular choice from all respondents is 18 years old (23%); in the UK, the most popular choice is 16 (22%) years old. Globally, the second choice was 19 years old, chosen by 13% of parents; almost 1 in 10 ( 8% of parents and guardians worldwide), however, would be at the opposite end of the spectrum and consider a 13 year old to be digitally independent; amongst Brits, 14% consider this to be a suitable age. Globally, 8% of parents and guardians think children aged 12 and under can be digitally independent, a belief held by 10% of parents in the UK. 


Dhaliwal continued, “Digital independence creates a huge challenge for today’s parents because as our research clearly shows, there’s simply no consensus on when a child is considered to be digitally independent. While having regular discussions about browsing safely online is very important, parents must also take into account the activities that their child is engaging in, whether they are supervised or unsupervised, and their child’s overall emotional level of development as these factors all affect how vulnerable they may be online.” 



The survey was conducted online among AVG users in H2 2018, generating 9,485 respondents globally, 601 in the UK. All respondents had at least one child under the age of 18 living in their household.


About AVG 

AVG Online Security provides software products that keep families and businesses safe online, around the world. AVG's award-winning consumer portfolio includes internet security, performance optimization, and privacy and identity protection for mobile devices and desktops. For more information, visit www.avg.com.