More than half of parents snoop on their children's online activity

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More than half of parents snoop on their children’s online activity, a new BullGuard study has revealed. The survey, which interviewed 2000 internet users across the UK, found that 55% of parents “keep an eye” on a son or daughter by checking their social networking profile, with a further 5% saying “they would if they knew how”.

Four in ten parents admitted to regularly checking their children’s social media status updates, 39% use the Facebook “wall” to see who’s been posting messages to their children, and 29% look through tagged images. And the reasons why? Quite predictably, more than a third credibly admit to being over-protective but astonishingly 24% believe that it’s the only way they can really see what their child is up to, with 11% saying that they have even set up a Facebook account for the sole purpose of snooping on a son or daughter. Interestingly, over a third of parents snoop because they want to know the sort of people they're child is mixing with.

16% of parents have attempted to “friend” their child and yet 30% have had their friend request rejected. It comes as no surprise then that 13% log in using a friends account to check up on their kids.

It’s not just social networking sites that are being scrutinised by concerned parents either – 76% say they check internet history to ensure children aren’t visiting unsuitable websites, 21% check instant messaging history and 23% root through the sentbox on email accounts. While 14% claim they are just being “nosey”, a significant 41% are worried that their computer might be infected by a virus or malware if a child visits an insecure site or registers for an illegitimate service.

“It certainly seems as though parents are taking advantage of the trail of information left by web use in order to check up on their kids” says Claus Villumsen, internet security expert with antivirus company BullGuard. “These figures are initially quite surprising, but since certain malicious third parties have been known to prey on unsuspecting or over trusting individuals online, it does seem as though many could have legitimate concerns”.

Parents who are concerned about infection from malware or other viruses should a child inadvertently open an email, run an application or download software that could provoke an attack will find that the best option available is to rely on regularly updated security software to protect against the latest threats.

“Anti-phishing protection can help to warn users if they are visiting websites or opening emails that contain suspect material, and of course spam filters are very helpful in protecting an Inbox from swathes of promotional (and often unsuitable) messages” says Villumsen. “Educating children about the sorts of threats that can be encountered online is essential in this day and age, as well as ensuring that these technologies are in place to add that vital extra layer of protection.”

The BullGuard survey of 2,000 Brits who are online was carried out by market researchers www.OnePoll.com

See more at: www.bullguard.com