Aussie parents not doing enough to protect their kids online

Microsoft report reveals most parents take few precautions to protect children on the Net.

Microsoft released research today showing that the majority of Australian parents take little to no precautions to protect their children online.

The survey found that while two thirds of parents are concerned about their children’s online welfare, 65 per cent take no precautions to protect them, with 60 per cent allowing unrestricted and unsupervised access to the Internet.

Microsoft’s ‘For Safety’s Sake’ research was undertaken last month and involved a survey of 1000 Australians.

“We’re really trying to reach out to that 65 per cent of people,” says Stuart Strathdee, chief security advisor at Microsoft Australia.

Microsoft Australia is promoting the use of its parental controls included in Windows 7 and Vista so that parents become more involved in their children’s online security.

“The Parental Controls included in Windows 7 can help you create a safer online environment for your children, without invading their privacy or breaking trust... from the one location, you can configure the parental controls for your computer and applications, setting appropriate limits on your children's game playing, web browsing, and overall computer use,” said Strathdee.

“Having the tools readily available is one thing, but we want to help parents start that conversation with their children [about internet safety].”

The research also found that 52 per cent of parents believe their child is more likely to be exposed to online danger at a friend's house than their own.

“If you think it’s not taking place on your premises, you’re less likely to implement the tools to prevent it,” said Strathdee.

The Rudd Government’s proposed mandatory internet filter is intended to help protect children against online danger, though the plan has met with criticism from the federal opposition and others, such as Electronic Frontiers Australia.

Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham supports in-home filtering because it allows for more comprehensive security than a mandatory filter, according to a spokesperson.

“Of paramount concern to me is the risk that parents may become complacent in monitoring their children’s use of the Internet if a mandatory filter is introduced,” said Birmingham in a letter to a Whirlpool user.

Microsoft Australia is also currently involved in an education program, ThinkUKnow, with federal law enforcement agencies to educate children about online safety, through primary and secondary schools nationwide.

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