We analysed the results of our Europe-wide survey on cybersecurity, focusing on the safety of children on the Internet and how parents act in certain situations in order to prevent and address the various dangers that can arise for their children.

  • Of the total number of respondents, 1511 people have children under the age of 18 and answered our cybersecurity-related questions.
  • Almost 8 out of 10 Europeans are very or fairly concerned about what their children might be doing when they go online.
  • Almost 2 out of 3 Europeans (64.26%) have some form of parental controls installed on the computer or mobile phone that their children use.

Is cybersecurity unfinished business for adults?

With the return to school, children and teenagers are once again immersed in the digital world, where education and entertainment are intertwined online. Although the Internet offers countless opportunities for learning and fun, it also presents dangers that can significantly affect youngsters. 

In this article, Panda Security wants to highlight the risks that children can face online and provide advice on how to protect them while navigating the Internet, based on the results of a survey of European parents.

Things have changed quite a lot: children used to come with a loaf of bread under their arm, but now it could be said that they come with an electronic device. Our little ones have grown up with the Internet, while those of us who are not so little have had to learn about it “by force”, as it has crept into our jobs, our homes and our children’s education.

Although it is true that in the face of this situation adults have largely adopted an “adapt or die” attitude, now may be a good time with the beginning of a new academic year to go over those pending subjects which will help them to further improve their online skills.

Are we aware of the dangers that children can encounter when surfing the Internet?

From inappropriate content, to sharing personal information or suffering cyberbullying. Our little ones are just that, little, and if there is one thing that characterises them, it is their innocence and genuine ignorance of the dangers they can encounter on the Internet.

For them, the Internet is their playground and somewhere where they feel safe, as they not only play on it at home, but they also use it at school as a learning tool.  

And it is at this point that we adults come into play. You could say that our children are a football team and we are the coaches, and as coaches we have the mission to guide and get the best out of our players on the pitch, i.e. on the Internet.

Nearly 8 out of 10 Europeans surveyed with children under the age of 18 admit to being very or somewhat concerned about what their children might be doing when they go online (78.69%), with 13.5% are not very or somewhat concerned, and 7.81% not very or not at all concerned. Italy is the country whose citizens are the most concerned (87.72%), followed by Spain (83.63%). In Germany there is a higher percentage of respondents who are neither very or slightly concerned (23.01%), or not very or not at all concerned (15.03%).

We would like to recommend this post with some cybersecurity tips.

Cyberbullying and measures on how to deal with it

As we mentioned before, our children’s playground is now the Internet, and as bullying goes digital, a new term has entered our online dictionary: cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying consists of harassing, intimidating or humiliating another person through social networks, messaging applications or online gaming platforms.

In fact, 11% of Europeans say that their children have been cyberbullied at some point. Germany is the country with the highest percentage of respondents indicating that their children have been cyberbullied (15.95%), followed by France (11.96%), while Italian citizens are the ones who mostly deny it being a problem (73.35%). In the case of Spain, respondents indicate to a greater extent than other countries that they do not know if their children have been cyberbullied, and therefore cannot say for sure (23.79%).

“Talking to the person involved, going to the school to talk to the teachers, addressing the issue with the parents of the person doing the bullying, or bringing the case to the attention of the authorities are some of the most common reactions of parents when they learn that their children have been cyberbullied”.

In terms of the actions taken by respondents to deal with such a situation, we found different reactions.

The reaction of 38% of respondents who have children who have been cyberbullied was to talk directly to the person involved (38.15%). This was followed by talking to the teachers at school (31.21%), finding out who was behind it and talking to their parents (30.06%), leaving their child to fend for themselves (24.86%), reporting it to the police (22.54%), and ignoring the issue and putting it down as a child or adolescent issue (3.47%). 

Breaking it down by country, the French (47.27%) and Italians (36.11%) indicate that when faced with cyberbullying they spoke directly to the person, while Germans preferred to speak with the parents (40.38%), and in the case of Spaniards, they let their child defend for themselves (36.67%) or reported it to the police (36.67%).

Apart from implementing the previously mentioned measures, something we must not forget about is to talk to the victim, let them know that they are not alone in this situation and provide them with the necessary solutions, such as going to psychological therapy. Cyberbullying can be very hard for our children to deal with emotionally and it is our duty to help them to move past it.

Parental control tools to face up to the dangers of the Internet

It is clear that the aforementioned measures that parents adopt once they are aware of the dangers on the Internet are good, but this security can be further strengthened if we use parental control tools such as those we provide at Panda Security.

We offer online security solutions specifically designed to protect children in the digital age. These tools include content filtering, parental controls and online activity monitoring, which can be useful in maintaining a safe online environment.

It is crucial for parents to use parental control tools and to be aware of their children’s online activities. With 9 out of 10 Europeans typically monitoring their children’s online use, what if that 9 became 10 out of 10? This may seem like a small increase, but it could help to significantly reduce the levels of cyberbullying.

In addition to this, ongoing education about the dangers of the Internet and how to surf safely is essential for children to make informed choices.

Encourage responsible use

Something that should also be considered is the responsible use of the Internet, not only in terms of treating other Internet users with respect, but also in terms of the time children spend online. 

There are various WHO studies about the recommended maximum amount of time that children should spend on the Internet, and it is important to know how to disconnect in order to connect with the outside world. 

Encouraging responsible use can be done by setting time limits and as adults setting an example by limiting the amount of time we spend on our own electronic devices.

By educating children about online safety, setting boundaries and using parental control tools, we can help them make the most of the opportunities offered by technology while keeping them safe from online dangers. Together, we can create a safer and more positive online environment to accompany children on their educational journey.