Nearly half of parents are failing to monitor who their children talk to online, according to a new survey.
The research by children's charity Barnardo's found just 55% of parents check up on who their youngsters speak to online, despite 88% admitting there are potential risks to children found in cyberspace.
According to the research, more than half of the devices bought this Christmas were for children aged 10 and under.
The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf Barnardo’s, found that only 60% of parents would activate the maximum privacy settings, designed to keep younger users safe when they are online, on a new device.
The charity estimates that as many as four million devices were bought for children over the festive period.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "At Barnardo's we understand how vital the online world is to children, but also how the risks can damage their childhood.
"Internet connected devices like tablets and iPhones can also come in the guise of harmless dolls or teddy bears and potentially allow strangers to pinpoint your address, obtain your child's name and birthday, download their photograph and even listen in on conversations.
"We're not saying don't buy or allow your children to enjoy these toys or devices, but we are urging parents and relatives to ensure their children are as safe as possible by ensuring privacy settings are at maximum and that they monitor who their children are communicating with."
The charity advises parents and carers to be cautious if the device:
- Connects directly to the Internet via WiFi
- Connects via Bluetooth to a device which is, in turn, connected to the Internet
- Contains speakers, contains microphones or cameras
- Features a recording device
- Contains wireless transmitters and receivers
- Has GPS capability
- Connects to a mobile app
- Requests a name, address, date of birth or other personal information when you register