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Parents 'should be responsible for online child safety'

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The vast majority of Britons believe that responsibility for online child safety lies with parents, a new survey for Virgin Media has shown.

2,000 adults were quizzed as part of the Our Digital Future campaign questionnaire, with 84% saying that parents must take responsibility for their child's web safety.

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However, only 38% of parents with children under the age of 18 have taken any action to alter their own child's online behaviour.

Executive director of broadband at Virgin Media Jon James said: "We've seen that the more parents engage with their children's online behaviour, the more likely they are to take steps to protect their families online.

"Driving online safety is paramount in preserving the many positive elements of digital technology, which is why Virgin Media is working closely with internet users and the government to develop the best tools, services and advice to help keep everyone safe online."

Glasgow South MP Tom Harris added: "My concern is that the media and parts of the political establishment simply see the internet as a threat to children and very little more than that.

"Of course we need to legislate and put safeguards in place but we must also teach our children how to navigate the internet and that responsibility lies with teachers and the education system as well as parents. The internet should be a key tool in a child's learning process."

UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox said: "I think the responsibility for educating children (about online safety) is the same as it is outside the internet world which is with parents, schools and anybody else who has authority over children.

"It's all of our responsibilities to make sure that children are educated in an effective way that takes into mind the fact that technology is changing all the time and their world will be very different from the one we inhabit now."

Mother-of-two and online entrepreneur Maria Albertsen added: "Even though the internet is a great means of access to information and the mass consumer markets for business, as a mum, keeping our children safe from illicit material is crucial.

"I believe that it is important to teach children, from an early age, about staying safe online. I am starting to teach my son what certain symbols or words mean and he knows that, for example, if a 'chat' request appears he needs to come and tell me or their dad, and not respond to it."

Today (February 5) marks the tenth year of Safer Internet Day, which is organised annually by the UK Safer Internet Centre to promote the responsible and safe use of online technology for children and young people.

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