LOS ANGELES, Feb. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Parents are overwhelmingly concerned that the web is watching their children, but many don't realize the scale of the problem or know how to take action. That's according to new research revealed today by Startpage, the world's most private search engine, which questioned 1,000 parents in the U.S. with children between five and sixteen.
The survey found 98% of parents are concerned about their children's privacy online. Despite regulations like COPPA designed to protect children, there are still many examples of data breaches and data misuse on the news, so parents' concerns are real.
Given data privacy for children often fails at the federal and company level, parents believe that the majority of the responsibility for protecting their children online falls to them. But over two thirds (68%) admitted to not feeling able, or only sometimes feeling able, to control their children's privacy online. Keen to be a part of the solution, 61% of parents take it into their own hands to teach their children about online safety. Yet this survey suggests many parents aren't knowledgeable enough about the dangers, and steps to combat them, themselves.
Parents unanimously said they know dangerous individuals lurk on the web and fear those people contacting their children. But, a surprising number are unaware of other day-to-day dangers from exposing their children's data:
36% said they didn't know companies could exploit their children's data for commercial gain
33% said they didn't know companies could use their children's digital footprint to target inappropriate ads at them
39% said they didn't know cybercriminals could be selling their children's information on the dark web
Without full knowledge of the repercussions, families innocently hand over personal data that threatens their online data privacy every day. Half of all parents admit to using non-private search engines to search for their children's health symptoms or conditions online, for example.
"With awareness building, people are increasingly making changes to their daily online routines to protect themselves. Parents, myself included, deserve simple and easy-to-implement privacy tools to protect their children," said Robert E.G. Beens, CEO of Startpage.
Non-private search engines and social media platforms use children's online data for their own gain every day. Through tracking cookies, an innocent search using a non-private search engine exposes more and more information about children to advertisers, which can result in retargeted ads - annoying at best, manipulative at worst. Parents only need to consider the auto-complete function on non-private search engines to realize how much companies already know about their children.
When it comes to taking steps to protect their children on the web, the survey results highlight parents aren't aware of all the options and which to prioritize:
Over half (58%) of parents say they try to avoid the problem entirely by restricting their children's access to laptops, tablets and smartphones
Two thirds (69%) would update browser security safeguards and content filters for language, nudity, sex and violence
Yet less than half (47%) would install a private search engine on desktop and mobile to decrease their children's digital footprints
Beens continued: "We don't believe in restricting people when it comes to privacy; young people will tend to find a way to do what they please regardless. For Startpage, it's about creating choice and tools to empower anyone to take back control of their data. A simple fix to decrease children's digital profiles is defaulting to private search. Installing a private search engine extension takes seconds and is an effective solution for search."
Startpage partnered with Pollfish to survey 1,000 adults in the U.S. with children between the ages of 5 and 16 on Friday, January 31.
About Startpage Startpage is the world's most private search engine. Founded in the Netherlands in 2006, the company has grown to become the preferred choice of anyone who cares about accurate search results as much as they care about their privacy. Startpage doesn't track, log, share or sell user data or search history. The company offers an exclusive feature - "Anonymous View" - which allows users to browse other websites without being tracked. Startpage partners with Google for best-in-class search results and applies its proprietary anonymizing process to protect users' online privacy. The company delivers completely un-profiled search results and protects consumers from annoying ads and price trackers. Startpage protects its world-wide users by adhering to the stringent Dutch and EU privacy laws, including GDPR. To find out more about how to change to the world's most private search engine, read installing the Startpage browser extension or setting Startpage as your default homepage. Follow the company on Twitter @startpage or sign up for its newsletter Privacy Please! at https://www.getrevue.co/profile/Startpage.