Interestingly the research found that dads were more clued up than mums about what the two forms of online chat were; with 58% of dads knowing the difference, compared with only 42% of mums.
Parents from the East Midlands fared worst in the country when it came to understanding how safe and free chat differs, with 67% of mums and dads confessing to not knowing the difference, the South West and London (both 57%) followed closely behind. East Anglian and Welsh parents were revealed as the most knowledgeable when it came to appreciating the different online chat options, 65% and 63%, respectively. The research commissioned by Petras Planet, a new safe virtual world for children to explore and learn about different cultures around the world, socialise and have fun online, interviewed 500 parents of primary school children from around the country.
Tomi Heinonen, CEO of Dramaforum, the company behind Petras Planet is surprised by the findings, he said: It is a concern that over 50% of parents with children aged 6-11 dont understand the difference between safe and free chat. If children are on a virtual world that allows free chat they could be communicating freely with people they dont know and who might not always be who they purport to be. Children are so savvy with their computer skills that they often find a way around the monitored chat.
He continued, Its crucial that parents understand this fundamental difference and can guide their children accordingly. Petras Planet is aimed at 6-11 year olds and in order to guarantee childrens safety, the virtual world only has safe chat in the form of chat trees which uses a pre-defined list of greetings, questions, expressions and statements. This makes it 100% safe and also complies with the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The safety of young children is of paramount importance to us and therefore we only use chat trees for the time being. This lets children explore freely in a safe, fun environment.
The research was commissioned in June 2012 and was independently carried out by OnePoll.
Parents and children can keep up-to-date on all the latest Petras Planet news by following on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. To find out more information on Petras Planet and keeping children safe, visit the virtual worlds safety page.