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Wednesday, 9 August, 2000, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Online children leave parents behind
Infant hand on computer mouse
Children are learning internet skills at a young age
Parents often have little idea how their children are using the internet at home or school.

In a survey of internet use in the home, one in seven parents admitted to having no idea what their children were viewing when they were online.

Such a lack of supervision is likely to raise concerns about access to material unsuitable for children, such as pornography or violent images - or that children might be vulnerable to approaches from paedophiles in online chat rooms.

But a lack of parental awareness also shows that children are often faster to acquire an understanding of new technology - and in many homes have the advantage of learning how to use the internet at school.

The Internet Access Report, published by Continental Research, says that 52% of parents believed that children were using the internet to help with homework and 44% said the internet was used for sending e-mails to friends.

Parents also reported that children were using the internet sites of their favourite television programmes or sites linked to playground crazes such as Pokémon cards.

The survey, based on almost 2,000 interviews, also found that many children who did not have the internet at home had access to the internet in schools.

This meant that their parents often had little understanding of how or what they were viewing on the internet.

Little understanding

The report claimed that there were currently 21 million people using the internet in the United Kingdom - at home, work or in education.

Another survey published on Wednesday claimed that parents had little understanding of how the internet is used in schools.

Research commissioned on behalf of computer company Tiny suggested that few parents understood how widely computers were being used in schools.

Parents were also found to have a low level of awareness of the government's long-running campaign to connect schools to the internet and to increase the use of information technology in schools.

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See also:

11 Oct 99 | Education
Net porn warning for pupils
26 Jun 00 | Education
Parents opt out of censorship
19 Feb 00 | Education
Children warned against net predators
27 Mar 00 | Education
Infants march for better computers
23 Dec 99 | Education
Half the UK's children are online
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