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One in Five Children Aged 12-15 Can Disable UK Internet Filters or Controls

Wednesday, Jan 15th, 2014 (12:53 pm) - Score 990

Ofcom has today published a new report for the Government that benchmarks the take-up, awareness and confidence of parents and children in relation to the use of online Parental Controls, such as the network-level Internet filters now being adopted by all of the major broadband ISPs. The results make for an interesting read.

The UK communication regulator’s report on internet safety measures (PDF) found that the vast majority of 8-15s say that they are confident about their online activities, with 83% of 8-11s and 91% of 12-15s saying they are confident about how to stay safe online and 67% of 12-15s believing they are confident that they can judge whether websites are truthful – [insert pun about a newspaper of your choice here].


Similarly some 46% of 12-15s know how to block junk email or spam, 41% can change the settings on their social networking site profile so fewer people can view it and 40% are aware of how to block pop-up adverts, but only just over half of those who can actually do all these things have actually done them.

Perhaps of more interest is the fact that 42% of children aged 12-15 know how to delete their browsing history (19% have done this in the past year), 29% can amend settings to use a web browser in privacy mode to mask their activity (12% have done this) and 18% know how to disable Internet filters (though just 6% have actually done this in the past year). We suspect that the knowledge of how to disable such filters will only increase as more children find their access obstructed by such measures.

Apparently 88% of children aged 8-11, or 94% for those aged 12-15, can recall receiving information or advice about staying safe online (usually from a teacher or parent). Most parents (83%) also say that they trust their child to use the internet safely (this increases with the age of the child – 52% of parents for 3-4s, 72% of parents for 5-7s, 83% of parents for 8-11s and 89% of parents with 12-15s) and the majority of parents continue to feel that “the benefits of the internet outweigh the risks“.

Maria Miller, Culture Secretary, said:

Britain is leading the way when it comes to protecting our children online but technology moves so fast and it is vital that we continue to stay ahead. It is encouraging that ISPs are making it far easier and simpler to introduce family filters to home internet connections. Filters will help limit access to inappropriate and harmful content but we all need to remember that they are not a silver bullet. Parents have a central role to play in protecting their children, including by talking to them about how to stay safe online.”

However, close to half of parents say that their child knows more about the internet than they do, including 14% of parents with children aged 3-4 (for shame..). Compared to 2012, parents of 8-11s are now more likely to say this (44% vs. 35%) and the figure increases to 63% for parents of 12-15s.


Meanwhile a majority of parents with children aged 5-15 (53%) have looked for or received information/advice about how to help their child stay safe online.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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