Concerns for Generation Internet

Alarms have been raised among parents after new research revealed more than half of children under the age of 16 (53%) are accessing the internet on a handheld device, while a quarter have an internet enabled computer in their bedroom. Online age verification system, AgeChecked, surveyed parents to reveal the range of ways their children are accessing the internet unsupervised to highlight the potential problems for parents. While 52 per cent of children have access to a shared family computer which can be easily observed by parents, almost two thirds (64%) can access the internet via a games console and over half (53%) via a tablet or phone. AgeChecked’s ‘Parents’ Concerns for Generation Internet’ report highlights fears that these devices could be possible portals to inappropriate content, make children more vulnerable to cyber bullying or enable them to purchase age restricted products like alcohol. Worryingly, the report also revealed that over two thirds of parents (68%) cannot be sure who their children are communicating with on the internet while over half (57%) believe that current age restrictions to protect children online aren’t working effectively. Rosi Prescott, chief executive of youth charity Central YMCA, said the results were a concern, but warned against overlooking the advantages of young people being able to use the internet. She said: “Cyber bullying is one of the most concerning, growing issues associated with youngsters having access to the internet from an early age. This modern trend of ‘always on’ social networking can put overwhelming amounts of social pressure on youngsters, which can ultimately lead to hampered wellbeing and body image issues, to name just a couple. As a result, safeguards must be put in place to protect the vulnerable against these modern risks.”

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