How young is too young to leave your kid alone online? Parents are leaving their four-year-olds to use the Internet unsupervised

Clara Guibourg
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Children Interacting With Tablet Technology
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How young is too young to leave kids alone online? Younger than you might imagine, and falling fast, as it turns out.

Until recently, most parents supervised their kids well into their tweens. Today, the average four-year-old is let loose unsupervised, according to research from price comparison site uSwitch.

Parents with children aged one to six said unsupervised Internet use began at age four and a half on average. Meanwhile, parents with older children, aged 13 to 17, didn’t allow unsupervised use until 11 on average.

Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch, warned this could mean young children were being exposed to “potentially being exposed to inappropriate content” online:

As technology evolves, so too do the tools designed to safeguard kids online - but there are evident concerns from mums and dads that these are not up to scratch, or at least not fit to protect teens.

They may be letting go earlier, but that doesn’t mean parents aren’t concerned about what their kids are getting up to online.

More than half of those polled said they were “extremely” or “quite” worried, with over a third, 36 per cent, admitting they fear their child’s social skills will take a hit from their online use, and nearly as many, 31 per cent, worrying about the impact on their child’s mental health.

Parents with teenagers are especially worried about what their offspring get up to on social media. Some 13 per cent think their kids are “oversharing” online, and even more, 15 per cent, think they need to cut back on the swearing.

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