Results of Mumsnet survey on children's internet use

In February 2008 a total of 1,346 Mumsnetters completed an on-line survey about children's use of the internet. All respondents had to have a computer and internet access at home and where relevant could complete the survey more than once for each of their children.

Key findings

  • Two thirds of our survey respondents haven’t installed any parental controls at all on the family computer.
  • Of those that had installed parental controls software, the vast majority (over 85%) were happy with the protection they offered their children.
  • While more than 80% of Mumsnetters supervised their under-11’s access to the computer, almost 70% of teens had mostly unsupervised access to the internet.
  • The average teenager in a Mumsnet household spends at least nine hours a week surfing the net, with 36% of teenagers spending more than 10 hours a week and almost a fifth of teens spending more than 16 hours a week.
  • 37% of teens have either a computer in their room, or access to a laptop that they can take to their room.
  • More than half of parents said they were worried about what their children looked at or might look at on the internet with the major anxiety being children encountering sexual images. Parents with children aged 10-12 were the most anxious about their children encountering sexual images (63%)
  • A fifth of parents of 10-12 year olds were aware that their child had encountered sexual material and many others didn’t know whether their children had encountered images of this nature or not.
  • The number one fear (50%) for parents of teenagers was their children talking to strangers in chat rooms.
  • Over a third of respondents were aware that their teens had talked to strangers in chat rooms with another 18% saying they didn’t know whether their teenage children had talked to strangers or not.
  • Over 40% of parents had not discussed safe internet usage/the dangers of the internet with their child. Amongst those who had, the average age to have this conversation was 6.9 years.
  • Of the parents who had discussed internet safety, 41% found their child was not aware of the dangers of talking to strangers in chat rooms and 38% found their child wasn't aware of the danger of giving out personal details on the net.
  • 56% of parents had had no guidance on internet safety from their child's school.
  • 85% of parents surveyed said the internet has had a positive impact on family life 

Full summary of results

   
Q2 How many hours per week does your child spend using the internet?
 
Average across the ages 2.6 hours, with 36% of teenagers spending more than 10 hours a week and almost a fifth of teens spending more than 16 hours a week.
 
Q3 Which of the following does your child have access to at home?
 
A computer in their room 4%
A laptop which they are allowed to take into their room 3%
The family computer in a communal family room 71%
A laptop or additional computer (not one for joint family use) which they use in a communal family room 15%
Family laptop in a communal family room 1%
PC in study/home office/computer room 1%
PC in parents bedroom 0%
Computer at school/nursery/library 0%
A computer in their room 4%
A laptop which they are allowed to take into their room 3%
The family computer in a communal family room 71%
A laptop or additional computer (not one for joint family use) which they use in a communal family room 15%
Family laptop in a communal family room 1%
PC in study/home office/computer room 1%
PC in parents bedroom 0%
Computer at school/nursery/library 0%
 
37% of teenagers either had a computer in their room or were allowed to take a laptop to their room.
 
Q4 Would you say that generally access to the internet is mostly supervised or mostly unsupervised?
 
Mostly supervised 77%
Mostly unsupervised 19%
Don't know 4%
 
Where in the 10-12 age group, 65% were supervised and 38% weren't, once over 13 only 35% were supervised and 62% weren't.
 
Q5 How worried are you about what your child looks at/might look at on the internet?
   
Very worried 10%
Quite worried 42%
Not worried at all 47%
Don't know 2%
 
Q6 Taking into account any parental controls you have in place (if any) which of the following potential occurrences (if any) currently worries you the most about your child's use of the internet?
 
Encountering sexual images 37%
Encountering violent images 27%
Encountering deeply unpleasant images, views or opinions 25%
Talking to strangers in chat rooms 17%
Being groomed by a paedophile 15%
Using your credit card to buy things 3%
Accidentally seeing something inappropriate while searching for something else/from pop ups *
Being addicted/obsessed/spending too much time on MSN/game sites/chat rooms *
Being bullied on messenger/email *
Downloading virus, spyware from sites/ads/pop ups *
Other *
None/not worried even though not supervised *
None - all access is supervised 38%
Don't know 3%
 
Q7 As far as you are aware, while using the internet has your child ever:
 
a. Encountered any material of a sexual nature
Yes 9%
No 84%
Don't know 4%
NS/NA 3%
 
b. Encountered any material of a scary nature
Yes 10%
No 80%
Don't know 6%
NS/NA 4%
 
c. Encountered deeply unpleasant images, views or opinions
Yes 4%
No 85%
Don't know 7%
NS/NA 4%
 
d. Used your credit card to buy things (without your knowledge/consent)
Yes 1%
No 95%
Don't know *
NS/NA 4%
 
e. Talked to strangers in chat room
Yes 6%
No 87%
Don't know 3%
NS/NA 4%
 
f. Been exposed to a paedophile
Yes 0%
No 92%
Don't know 5%
NS/NA 3%
 
35% of teens had talked to strangers in chat rooms and a further 18% of parents didn't know if their teens had talked to strangers online or not.
 
 
Q8 If your child has had these experiences while using the internet, how often has this happened?:
 
a. Encountered any material of a sexual nature
Never 1%
Once or twice 74%
A few times 17%
Frequently 4%
Don't know 3%
 
b. Encountered material of a scary nature
Never 3%
Once or twice 59%
A few times 30%
Frequently 1%
Don't know 7%
 
c. Encountered deeply unpleasant images, views or opinions
Never 3%
Once or twice 63%
A few times 20%
Frequently 0%
Don't know 13%
 
d. Used credit card to buy things (without knowledge/consent)
Never 0%
Once or twice 100%
A few times 0%
Frequently 0%
 
e. Talked to strangers in chat room
Never 1%
Once or twice 29%
A few times 25%
Frequently 34%
Don't know 11%
 
f. Been exposed to a paedophile
Never 0%
Once or twice 50%
A few times 0%
Frequently 50%
 
 
Q9 Have you installed any specific Parental Control software on the computer your child uses?
 
Yes 35%
No 59%
Don't know what parental controls are 3%
NS 2%
 
Q9a If you have installed specific Parental Control software please state which type of software you use:
 
Time Management - i.e. system that makes the internet accessible only at certain times of day 8%
Whitelist - i.e. system whereby only sites explicitly approved by parents are accessible 27%
Blacklist / blocking - i.e. system where sites are accessible unless explicitly blocked 28%
Spy / Activity Loggers - i.e. system that keeps a record of all your child's activity online, for your review 24%
Content-based filtering - i.e. device that tries to scan web pages for potentially unsavoury content (i.e. pornographic images) 61%
AOL Parental Controls 1%
McAfee Security System 1%
Net Nanny 1%
Norton Software *
Google filters 1%
Not sure - other software/package that came with computer 2%
Age sensitive software 1%
DK my partner deals with it 1%
DK/NS 1%
 
 
Q9b If you have installed specific Parental Control software how old was your child when you introduced these parental controls?
 
Under 3 (3.0) 31%
4 (4.0) 13%
5 (5.0) 11%
6 (6.0) 8%
7 (7.0) 10%
8 (8.0) 7%
9 (9.0) 6%
10 (10.0) 7%
11 (11.0) 2%
12 (12.0) 1%
13 (13.0) 1%
14 or over (14.0) 1%
NS 1%
Average age 5.74 years
 
Q9c How effective have you found Time Management at protecting your child from unsuitable internet access?
 
Effective (net) 83%
Not effective (net) 15%
 
Q9c How effective have you found Whitelist at protecting your child from unsuitable internet access?
 
Effective (net) 91%
Not effective (net) 5%
Don't know 4%
 
Q9c How effective have you found Blacklist/blocking at protecting your child from unsuitable internet access?
 
Effective (net) 84%
Not effective (net) 9%
Don't know 7%
 
Q9c How effective have you found Spy/Activity Loggers at protecting your child from unsuitable internet access?
 
Effective (net) 86%
Not effective (net) 4%
Don't know 10%
 
Q9c How effective have you found Content-based filtering at protecting your child from unsuitable internet access?
 
Effective (net) 83%
Not effective (net) 8%
Don't know 9%
 
Q9d If your controls have not been effective - why do you think they haven't worked?
 
Didn't work technically 40%
Child can bypass or disable the system 16%
Adult doesn't really understand how it works 16%
Still allows some unsuitable content through/can't stop everything unsuitable 9%
Blocks too much/doesn't let anything through 7%
Black list only useful after/can't keep up with/don't know all sites to block 7%
Other 2%
DK/NS 18%
 
Q10 Would you allow your child unlimited access to the following sites:
 
a. YouTube
Yes 12%
No 81%
Don't know 6%
 
b. Google
Yes 34%
No 58%
Don't know 8%
 
c. Facebook
Yes 9%
No 83%
Don't know 8%
 
d. Bebo
Yes 8%
No 74%
Don't know 18%
 
e. Club Penguin
Yes 20%
No 39%
Don't know 41%
 
f. iTunes store
Yes 18%
No 68%
Don't know 15%
 
g. BBC
Yes 58%
No 32%
Don't know 10%
 
h. Second life
Yes 3%
No 65%
Don't know 33%
 
ANY NAMED WEBSITE
Would allow unlimited access to any named website (Net) 65%
Would not allow unlimited access to any named website (Net) 33%
Don't know 2%
 
Q11 Have you or your partner discussed safe internet usage with your child?
 
Yes 39%
No 41%
Don't know/NA 20%
 
Q11a How old was your child when this conversation took place?
 
Under 3 (3.0) 12%
4 (4.0) 8%
5 (5.0) 13%
6 (6.0) 13%
7 (7.0) 14%
8 (8.0) 13%
9 (9.0) 9%
10 (10.0) 9%
11 (11.0) 3%
12 (12.0) 3%
13 (13.0) 1%
14 or over (14.0) 1%
NS 1%
Average age 6.9 years
 
Q11 Were they already aware of the potential dangers of:
 
a Talking to strangers in chat rooms?
Yes 53%
No 41%
Don't know 6%
 
b Giving out personal details?
Yes 58%
No 37%
Don't know 5%
 
Q12a Has your child's school raised the issue of internet safety with you?
 
Yes 25%
No 56%
Don't know/NA 19%
 
Q12b How old was your child when this subject was first raised with you?
 
Under 3 (3.0) 2%
4 (4.0) 12%
5 (5.0) 17%
6 (6.0) 13%
7 (7.0) 12%
8 (8.0) 14%
9 (9.0) 10%
10 (10.0) 5%
11 (11.0) 9%
12 (12.0) 3%
13 (13.0) 1%
14 or over (14.0) 1%
NS 1%
Average age 7.15 years
 
Q13a Has your child's school raised the issue of interent safety with your child?
 
Yes 29%
No 48%
Don't know 23%
 
Q13b How old was your child when the school raised the subject with him/her?
 
Under 3 (3.0) 1%
4 (4.0) 9%
5 (5.0) 12%
6 (6.0) 12%
7 (7.0) 17%
8 (8.0) 16%
9 (9.0) 7%
10 (10.0) 7%
11 (11.0) 11%
12 (12.0) 4%
13 (13.0) 1%
14 or over (14.0) 0%
NS 1%
Average age 7.54 years
 
Q14 Overall would you say that the internet has had a positive or a negative influence on your family life?
 
Mostly positive 85%
Mostly negative 3%
Neither positive nor negative 10%
Don't know 2%

Last updated: over 1 year ago