According to Australia-wide research by Family Zone, a generation of children is accessing adult content from the age of seven years old, due to unrestricted access to the internet and lack of parental controls.
The research showed that more than half of Australian parents (56%) have no online parental controls in place and more than a quarter have no idea how to protect their children on their digital devices.
Family Zone revealed in the first weeks of launching their new parental control software, children under- 13 years old were not only stumbling upon adult content accidentally, but also actively seeking out adult websites and apps, including popular age restricted dating app Tinder.
The nationwide Family Zone Cyber Safety Report revealed the majority of parents are in the dark about their children's online activity, with three-quarters (76%) of parents admitting they had no idea if their children have accessed adult content such as pornography or violent clips online.
According to the report, children are starting to spend time online from as young as one years old, with more than half of Aussie kids actively online by the age of seven. As kids start to spend more time online unsupervised, they are stumbling onto the wrong kinds of content with common innocent search terms such as -wet and wild', -pussycat', -pussycat dolls', -big girls' toys' and -big puppies' leading to them being able to access inappropriate content.
'Parents are often misaligned between what they think they're children are doing online versus what their children are really doing online," said David Kobler, youth expert and Director of Protect Our Kids, facilitators for seminars on sexuality and relationships for students, parents and teachers.
'Excessive screen time, cyber bullying and highly violent or sexualised content are becoming increasingly worrying issues for Australian families. As our children are entering their 'tween" phase younger and younger they are frequently stumbling onto the wrong kinds of content, which can be really troubling at a young age.
There are a number of serious online dangers for parents to be aware of and it is really not appropriate and quite concerning for young children to be trying to join online dating apps.
'Much of the inappropriate content that children are accessing is also found within sites like YouTube, where parents think their kids are only accessing safe content. On top of this we know children can spend excessive amounts of time on their digital devices. Short of having a parental software control at home, it's hard to see how parents are truly aware of what is happening on their kid's devices."
Further findings from the Family Zone Cyber Safety Report found that the top concerns for parents with their kids using digital devices is that they are missing out on physical activity, followed by accessing pornography or being targeted by pedophiles.
Tim Levy, Family Zone Co-Founder and Managing Director, said he built the Australian company in response to the rapidly evolving digital and social landscape. He wanted to give parents a way to take back control of their children's online activity.
'Australian parents no longer have to feel helpless or frustrated with their children's online behavior and at times addictions. Until now, there was no universal control platform which could be applied to every device in and out of the home. Family Zone provides parents with peace of mind and gives them control across mobile phones, tablets, the TV, any device which accesses the internet.
'For parents with teenagers, we encourage an open dialogue about online activity and it's not about stopping access, but more protecting them from excessive screen time and disturbing content. Working with our Cyber Experts like David Kobler has revealed that as children get older, they're increasingly susceptible to a myriad of online dangers and addictions."
'Family Zone has been created by Australian parents, for Australian parents to help children stay safe online and address the concerns our Cyber Safety Report has unveiled," concluded Tim Levy.
Family Zone offers a free one-month trial. To trial Family Zone or for more information visit www.familyzone.com