How Can You Keep Your Kids Safe Online?

Good open and honest communication between parents and children is key to safe online browsing claims a new survey.

According to the second annual Norton Online Living Report, commissioned by Symantec, parents need to talk about "the bytes and the bees" as well as the birds and the bees.

Parents need to be more clued up to exactly where their children are online, as the research showed that UK kids are spending more than twice as much time on the web as their parents think they are - 43.5 hours per month compared to the 18.8 hours parents estimated.

"Having an open discussion with your children is something we really encourage," said Marian Merritt, Symantec's Internet Safety Advocate.

"It's not about coming down hard on them when they encounter inappropriate content, as the Internet is a great place to learn and to play, but there have to be boundaries. Kids in the UK are pretty Internet savvy, and parents need to keep up. We are encouraged by what we're seeing, but there's still work to be done by parents."

The survey also found that parents and children were bonding via social networking sites, such as Facebook, by adding each other to lists of friends. One in six parents were happy to discuss sensitive subjects online with their children rather than potentially embarrass them with a face-to-face chat.

More than two thirds, some 67 per cent, of UK adults said that the Internet makes keeping in touch with families easier, with 58 per cent agreeing that it had improved offline relationships.

One in five UK adults use a webcam at least once a week to keep in touch with family and friends.

However, Symantec discovered 54 per cent of UK parents have set parental controls on web usage -- the highest percentage globally bar India at 55 per cent -- with 93 per cent agreeing that it was the parents' responsibility to protect children online.

The Norton Online Living Report 2009 microsite can be found here.

This story, "How Can You Keep Your Kids Safe Online?" was originally published by Macworld U.K..

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