Survey: Talking to kids about tech most dreadful for most parents

LONDON — Sitting down to talk about “the birds and the bees” used to be the most dreaded conversation for parents to have with their kids, but according to a new survey that isn’t the case for many modern moms and dads. A total of 1,000 British parents took part in the research, and 56% would rather talk to their children about sex and puberty than learn about new online features, trends, and gadgets.

For most respondents, modern technology is a big mystery; about 60% said they ask their children for help with their various gadgets and tech devices.

The survey, commissioned by BT Skills for Tomorrow, also found that while many parents are familiar with ubiquitous online acronyms such as LOL, BTW, and ATM, only seven percent are aware of what PAW means (parents are watching). Another 10% said they don’t understand any online jargon or lingo at all.

Over a quarter of surveyed parents don’t know what the popular social media platform Tik Tok is. Similarly, 48% said they’re aware of it, but admit they have no idea how to use it.

“Children are extremely bright and are often ahead of the game when it comes to understanding the capabilities of the internet — safety is paramount and it’s vital parents have these important conversations with their kids at an early age,” says Kerensa Jennings, digital impact director at BT, in a media release.

The researchers also polled 1,000 British children between six and 14 years old. In all, 20% said they wouldn’t even think to ask their parents a technology question because they “rarely know the answer.”

An additional 35% said their parents aren’t familiar with the apps and websites they regularly use, and 40% said they consider themselves more technologically educated than their parents.

As children age, they become less likely to go to their parents for tech advice and instead rely on their friends, the survey showed. Nearly 25% of children in the study aged six to eight years old said they go to their friends for technology help, compared to 53% of 13 and 14 year olds. Another quarter of respondents said they go to YouTube for help.

In spite of their lack of knowledge in the technology sphere, 90% of surveyed parents said they understand the importance of educating their children about the Internet.

Many parents said they’ve tried to educate themselves on modern technology by performing internet searches, speaking to friends, or taking online training courses. About 60% of child respondents said they would be more likely to turn to their parents for technology advice if mom and dad improved their tech knowledge.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.