40% of kids regularly visit forbidden sites

Many parents unaware of their nippers' online jaunts

Children under the age of 16 are regularly visiting websites that have been prohibited by their parents, divulge personal details to strangers, and meet up with people they met online, according to research published today.

Online identity firm Garlik commissioned research among 500 children aged 8-15 and 500 parents across the UK. Its findings suggest that 40 per cent of children regularly visit websites that are prohibited by their parents. Many divulge personal details without parental consent, including full name (30 per cent), home address (12 per cent), mobile number (20 per cent), home telephone number (10 per cent), school details (46 per cent), and family photos (9 per cent).

One in five children in Britain has met up with someone first encountered online and five per cent do so on a regular basis. Only seven per cent of parents are aware that their children are doing this.

Eleven per cent of children have been bullied online - with victims intimidated by email or on chat-rooms - yet only half have spoken to their parents about their ordeals.

Despite 90 per cent of parents monitoring their offspring's internet activities, more than half of the 8-15 year-olds questioned admitted to surfing the internet when their parents didn't know, often late at night.

Garlik CEO Tom Ilube said: "Our research is a shocking wake-up call to all parents in the UK to sit down with their children and talk about how to keep safe online. The web is a wonderful place to explore but young people continue to make themselves vulnerable by not applying the same caution online as they would in person."

Garlik's top tips for parents

  1. Keep internet-connected computers in a central and open location, particularly for younger children.
  2. Sit down and talk to your children about their online activity. You should know everyone on your children's contact list.
  3. For younger kids, make sure you know all their passwords. Don't intrude, but let them know that you know, just in case.
  4. Tell your children not to provide personal details online. No full names, addresses, or telephone numbers.
  5. Devise a code of conduct - list of internet rules - that you and your children agree to sign up to.

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