Over Half of UK Parents Plagued by Lack of Smartphone Control

2 min read MSPs
AdaptiveMobile research reveals parents struggling to cope with growing mobile threats

Parents have limited power over their children’s smartphone usage, with 55% believing they have the least control over mobiles, compared to gaming devices and laptops, according to AdaptiveMobile research. With 65% concerned that their children are unprotected from mobile threats including cyberbullying, sexting and viewing inappropriate content, this lack of control indicates a huge headache for parents.

AdaptiveMobile’s fifth Global Security Insights in Mobile (GSIM) report, reveals that parents don’t have as much control as they’d like over the content their children are seeing (51%), the information they are revealing (52%) and who they are interacting with (51%), highlighting a clear challenge in balancing the benefits of mobile phones with the risks.

Gareth Maclachlan, COO and Co-Founder at AdaptiveMobile says: “Parents being unable to monitor their children’s mobile phone use is a real issue for them. They want the peace-of-mind brought by giving phones to their children, but are fearful over the consequences of cyberbullying, unsolicited contact from strangers, and access to inappropriate content. Concern over these threats and specifically child safety and wellbeing is actually causing a quarter of parents not to give their children mobile phones; a real shame when you consider what a great tool for advancement and development they can be.”

Who’s responsible?

Parents are trying to educate their children on the threats associated with smartphones, with 69% having discussed cyberbullying and 32% the dangers of sexting, indicating a desire to encourage sensible behaviour when using mobiles. Whilst most (89%) parents feel it is their duty to protect their children when using smartphones, over a quarter (26%) believe their operator should also be responsible, with greater accountability than ISPs, schools, the government and handset manufacturers.

Andy Phippen, Professor of Social Responsibility in IT at Plymouth University comments: “What is clear is parents are aware of safety issues with mobile technology yet are unsure what to do. Key issues such as lack of knowledge and constantly evolving technology are the sorts of things parents face in this modern world. It is encouraging to see many are engaged in dialogue with their children on these issues, it is the combination of education and technological solutions that will help to protect children."

Gaining control

Although 53% of parents are aware of products to monitor and control mobile usage and 95% would like to use some form of control on their children’s smartphones, only 13% of parents are actually using them. This highlights a worrying trend that the tools available to protect against mobile threats are clearly not up to the job.

Gareth Maclachlan, COO and Co-Founder at AdaptiveMobile concludes: “Parents want flexible controls - they don’t want to put a blanket ban on mobile usage or ignore the risks and almost two thirds (68%) want controls they can adapt as their children mature. Giving parents the flexibility to manage the services available on their children’s handsets from their own phone is one way that parents can start to gain more control and reassurance over their children’s mobile usage.”