Kids are only ever three seconds from online danger at home as parents unintentionally neglect to protect young children

News has emerged  that children as young as eight years old are at risk of emotional damage from social media – prompting a review by MPs into smartphone usage.

However, new Kaspersky Lab research has revealed that children even younger than this are at risk of psychological harm – as the average three-year old spends more than four hours a week with what amounts to a ‘digital babysitter’ and is only ever seconds away from accessing inappropriate content featuring guns, violence and nudity.

Parents are not toddler-proofing their online world, with a huge 87 per cent of parents admitting that they don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online – three-year olds are spending more than four hours a week with these ‘digital babysitters’ and being exposed to potential psychological harm.

The average child spends 40 minutes per day, or 4.6 hours a week, watching online video content on a mobile device. Yet only 13 per cent of parents install online security on their smart phone, laptop or tablet – and 49 per cent have never reviewed the default settings to prevent the child viewing inappropriate material. Examining YouTube’s suggested videos, which sit visibly alongside clips or episodes of popular children’s television programmes such as Peppa Pig, users are just clicks away from content aimed at a more mature audience – featuring violence, guns and nudity.

Young children at high risk of emotional damage from accessing adult content. So how can you protect your family online?

Kaspersky Lab’s top tips for protecting your family online are:

  1. Supervision – This may seem obvious, but supervise your child’s internet use. Encourage them to visit and stay on websites you’re familiar with. If you have any concerns, look at their browsing history. Be sure to know about any password-protected sites they may be accessing and ask them to share their login details with you.
  1. Be open – Encourage your child to be open about what they are doing online and who they are socialising with. Promote a culture of safety within the home and talk about the possible dangers which exist.
  1. Protect your family – Use parental controls to block access to sites you don’t want your child looking at as part of your online security product – it’s an easy way to avoid disaster. Review the default settings on each app that your child uses to ensure that the camera or microphone, for example, aren’t needlessly turned on as these can pose a threat.