Survey: Parents don't monitor their children's Web surfing

23% of Israeli kids spend over 13 hours a week online.

fatherKidsComputer224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
While surfing the Internet has become one of the major activities for children, parents are not sufficiently aware of what sites their kids access, an Education Ministry study has found. The study, which was released Monday and was conducted among fifth and eighth graders in 250 schools, found that 66 percent of those polled said they did not discuss with their parents what sites they surfed. Moreover, a quarter said they looked at adult sites, including some students in the fifth grade. Two-thirds of parents let their children spend as much time as they wanted surfing the Internet; 50% of children spend at least six hours a week browsing while 23.2% spend more than 13 hours online, the study found. Nearly half of the parents of those polled did not express any interest in what sites their children visited and more than 70% did not have any sort of content blocker installed. 96.4% have a computer at home connected to the Internet. Dorit Becher, information management and ethics on the Internet supervisor at the Education Ministry, explained that while the ministry had done a lot to raise awareness over the past year, more needed to be done. "There is no doubt that our activities throughout the year have gotten results. Lately, the media has also helped. Nevertheless, it is important to continue teaching careful surfing on the Web. Even if only a few kids aren't careful and submit personal details over the Net, that's enough for disaster to strike," she said. Despite Becher's concern, the study found that 67.8% used a nickname to protect themselves while surfing. 70% got advice or checked before submitting personal details online. Most of the children polled said they were aware that the Internet was not a safe place to make new friends. Students said they went online mainly to find information for school, play games or to download music and movies. Half said they used the Internet to communicate with friends. Aside from the dangers inherent in surfing, another troubling aspect emerged from the study. About a quarter said they believed it was all right for students to download a paper from the Internet and submit it to the teacher as their own. A similar percentage believed they could download and pass on anything they found while surfing. The study was conducted and released ahead of national Safe Internet events, which will take place from February 6-12. The Education Ministry will try and generate debate over the right and wrong of Internet surfing through activities at community centers and in schools.