A new study in the UK has discovered that as many as two thirds of British millennials sent inappropriate or nude images whilst they were younger. Three quarters of millennial parents have gone on to speak to their own children about misusing their technology, spurred on by information from schools or the news.
British parents are allowing their children to have access to their own smartphones from as young as six years old, with more than two fifths failing to monitor what their child does with their phone.
Three quarters of parents whose youngsters have smartphones have gone on to speak to their children about sending/receiving inappropriate images, talking to strangers and bullying others through their devices.
The team at conducted the research as part of an ongoing study into how technology has changed over the years. 2,381 British parents aged 18 to 35 years old (also known as millennials), all of whom stated that they had at least one child aged 13 or over, were quizzed about how their children interact with technology.
All respondents were initially asked ‘At what age did you give your child their first mobile phone?’ to which the average age was revealed to be 10 years old. Just 5% of respondents stated that their child didn’t yet own a mobile phone and a further 17% said that their child had a mobile phone between the age of six years old and nine years old.
Following on from this, all relevant parents were then asked, ‘Do you monitor your child’s mobile phone usage?’ to which just over half of respondents (53%) said they did. The 47% who claimed that they didn’t monitor their child’s phone usage cited ‘I trust my child’ (32%), ‘I monitored it when they were younger, but don’t feel the need anymore’ (30%) and ‘there are parental controls/restrictions in place, so I don’t need to’ (24%) as the top reasons why.
Respondents were then asked, ‘Have you had to talk to your children about what is and isn’t appropriate to send to others or receive from others?’ to which 74% said ‘yes’. When asked what topics they had covered, parents cited ‘inappropriate/nude images’ (64%), ‘talking to/arranging to meet a stranger’ (51%) and ‘bullying’ (46%) as the most common.
When asked what had encouraged them to talk to their children about these topics, ‘information provided by the school’ (44%) was shown to be the top reason, followed by ‘the local/national/worldwide news’ (29%).
When asked if they’d ever sent inappropriate or nude images themselves when they were younger, two thirds (68%) confessed that they had. Whilst the average age of doing so was revealed to be 17 years old, the youngest age was revealed to be 12 years old. When asked why they had done it, respondents cited ‘peer pressure’ (26%) and ‘it was with someone I loved at the time’ (25%). When asked if they’d gone on to regret it, 88% did; the majority who didn’t regret it stated that ‘it wasn’t the norm to share intimate images back then’ (38%) and ‘technology wasn’t as advanced, so it was less risky’ (35%).
George Charles, spokesperson for money-saving website www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, commented on the findings:
“With so many young children and teens having access to smartphones, laptops, tablets and more, it’s more important than ever to be having conversations with our kids about what is and isn’t acceptable. I’m all for children having access to technology to stay in touch with their family and friends, especially in case of emergencies, but it’s when it’s misused that it becomes dangerous – and, whilst they are just children, it’s important they’re aware of the consequences should something happen or should they misuse their gadgets.”