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Parents are relying too heavily on their children doing as they are asked to keep them safe online according to new research from BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

84 per cent of parents polled across the UK said that they rate verbal agreement with their children on safe Internet usage as their number one means of monitoring online activity. This comes in the wake of a worrying Government report that one in four children has put themselves in potential danger by secretly meeting strangers they have contacted online1.

Michael Phillips, product director of BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said: “It’s surprising that so many people rely heavily on their child doing what they ask – it just isn’t going to happen in most cases and the Government’s research proves this.

“However, there are a few simple steps parents can take to bolster protection for their child when online. Rather than relying on a single approach, they should use parental control and security software, combined with education, to stop inappropriate material – and people – reaching their child.”

Our research shows that the top four ways parents monitor their child’s online activity are:

1. A verbal agreement to use the Internet safely (84 per cent)
2. The use of parental control software such as McAfee and Norton (63 per cent)
3. Restricting the amount of time children spend online (62 per cent)
4. Manually checking the computer to see what they have been doing online (59 per cent)

1 This represents a three-fold increase on a similar study carried out two years ago.

Behind their parents’ backs
The poll also asked children aged 11-16 what they had actually been doing online during the school holidays. The top three activities were:

1. Downloading music and photos (48 per cent)
2. Joining in with chat rooms and making new friends online (45 per cent)
3. Using social networking sites such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook (40 per cent)

“The wide availability of the Internet has made ‘stranger danger’ omnipresent. Parents need to be made more aware of the simple checks that they could put in place to safeguard their children who are increasingly using the Internet to build new relationships.

“As well as the possible safety threats posed by the Internet, your child’s online activities could land you a bigger bill at the end of the month. With 48 per cent of children regularly downloading from the Internet, usage allowances could easily be exceeded and parents could find themselves out of pocket at the end of the month if they aren’t able to monitor it,” concluded Phillips.

BroadbandChoices.co.uk’s top five tips for protecting your children online

1. Parental control software: Some ISPs like AOL and BT offer parental controls as part of their service, while other users can get them with their antivirus and security suites. Parental controls allow you to block certain sites and keywords, apply different settings for different age groups and monitor your child’s online activity. You can also use the Messenger Plus! program to keep a log of conversations they might be having using Instant Messenger.

2. Education: Completely banning older children from the Internet is unlikely to stop them from using chatrooms and social networking sites, so instead, explain why they need to be careful on the Internet and make sure they know never to give out personal information or meet strangers without an adult around.

3. All on one PC: Keeping the family computer in the living room is a great way of ensuring that your children stay safe online. They’re far less likely to spend time in chatrooms or downloading illegally if their parents are in the same room. Also, make sure that you’re set as the administrator on any PC in the home, so that only you can change the settings on your parental control software.

4. Antivirus and firewall software: Using security software to protect your PC will also protect your child from spam emails with inappropriate content, and phishing emails where they could give out personal information including bank details.

5. Monitor downloads: If you’re concerned about the affect your children’s downloading is having on your monthly usage allowance, use a Download Monitor such as ours to keep an eye on downloads and set alarms to alert you when you near your limit.

BroadbandChoices.co.uk’s download monitor can be accessed at http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/broadband-download-monitor...

About BroadbandChoices.co.uk: http://www.broadbandchoices.co.uk

BroadbandChoices.co.uk is the second biggest broadband comparison service in the UK. Unlike other comparison sites, BroadbandChoices.co.uk doesn’t just focus on price but total package value. Consumers can now refer to this impartial Website to access the latest broadband advice and deals, to help them make the right choice.

What makes BroadbandChoices.co.uk different:

* Most comprehensive range of consumer guides and advice
* Emphasis on value rather than cost alone
* Variety of ways to rank products according to individual priorities
* Detailed product information
* A community of like minded people where you can read reviews or share your thoughts
* Up-to-date information regarding key industry developments
* Access to bespoke interactive tools (speed tester & download monitor)

For further information contact:

Rachel Lear / Louise Mapp
Ascent PR
T: 0118 988 0501
E: rachel.lear@ascentpr.co.uk

Michael Phillips
BroadbandChoices.co.uk
T: 020 7700 3245
E: michael@broadbandchoices.co.uk

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