SINGAPORE – While young people in Singapore are spending more time online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, three in 10 parents did not feel their children are well-informed about online safety issues, a survey has found.
Another worrying trend is that while the average age for a child to own a mobile phone is 10, the average age the child is educated about online safety is 13.
But seven in 10 parents have had a conversation with their children on online safety.
These were among the findings of a survey designed by Google, which it shared during its workshop on children’s online safety on Saturday.
The survey was conducted by research firm Qualtrics in February.
It involved 4,500 parents with children between five and 17 in Australia, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. About 500 respondents were from Singapore.
The survey found that more than three in five parents here have allowed their children to have increased screen time since the pandemic for a variety of reasons, such as remote learning and entertainment.
About a third of them also said their children spent an average of between three and six hours online per day.
The top three concerns the respondents in Singapore had for their children’s online safety were the risk of online grooming, privacy and security, and cyber bullying.
More than four in five parents were confident their children would go to them with any problem online. But less than a third proactively looked for information about the topic.
Respondents also found it challenging to find age-appropriate and easy-to-understand examples of online safety, as well as the tools to monitor or control their child’s online usage.
Online safety for children is one of several topics that Google is focusing on as it deepens its commitment to Singapore.
In August, the tech giant pledged to train 50,000 parents and children in online safety in the next 12 months.
It will be sharing its resources with educators from its Be Internet Awesome curriculum, which teaches children about online safety.
Google has also arranged for a roving installation of interactive booths, dubbed Google Online Safety Park, to go to selected primary schools.
So far, the installation has visited CHIJ (Katong) Primary and West Grove Primary.
Saturday’s workshop, which was held at Google’s office in Pasir Panjang, was attended by 35 parents and children.
It included a discussion on best practices to ensure children’s online safety, involving panellists such as Associate Professor Elmie Nekmat from the Department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore.
The event follows the Ministry of Communications and Information’s (MCI) public consultation exercise over its proposed measures to enhance online safety for social media users here, especially the young.
Views from over 600 respondents, including the public as well as community and indu stry groups, were received.
In its findings released on Thursday, MCI said: “Many were not aware of existing safety features on social media services, while some parents expressed concern that they lacked the knowledge to guide their children to use social media services safely.”