Parents find it easier to talk to children about the birds and the bees than tweets and memes

  • BT study reveals over half (56%) would rather discuss sex education than technology

  • One in two children surveyed (52%) believe they know more than their parents about the internet and social media, with over a quarter of parents not knowing what the popular social platform TikTok is

  • Parents are most enthusiastic about traditional skills like Maths and English

  • Tech jobs, such as coding and web development, were the third most preferred career for their children to go into

  • BT launches new Skills for Tomorrow initiative, to offer parents the information and resources they need to give them confidence in the digital world

Parents admit finding it difficult to understand aspects of the digital world causing over half (56%) to avoid discussing technology and social media with their children, and instead preferring to discuss the ‘birds and the bees’. These were part of the findings revealed in a new study by BT Skills for Tomorrow in which 57% of parents surveyed said they ask their kids to help them when it comes to advice on new apps and technology.

With digital technology transforming every element of our day to day lives, it’s increasingly vital that parents have the knowledge they need to talk with their children about how they use technology. Whilst many parents are familiar with classic acronyms used on social media by children, such as LOL, BTW and ATM, new acronyms remain a mystery. Only one in five parents understand POS (parent over shoulder) and 10% don’t understand any acronyms at all. Similarly, 35% of parents say they aren’t familiar with the platforms and apps their children frequently use.

To support parents and guardians across the UK, BT has launched Skills for Tomorrow, a new programme to give 10 million people the skills they need for the digital world. The online platform hosts free resources and online courses covering all areas of life, including parent-specific information to give them knowledge and confidence online to empower them in supporting their children’s digital lives.

Professor Kerensa Jennings, Digital Impact Director, BT, said: “New technology is constantly changing family life, so we want to help parents feel more confident about helping their children to navigate the online world. From protecting children’s privacy to managing screen time, at BT we know how important it is for parents to have these important conversations with their kids from an early age. Our Skills for Tomorrow programme is here to help families build confidence and understanding so that they can support their children to have a happy, healthy and safe time online.”

Carolyn Bunting, CEO, Internet Matters, said: “Conversations about your child's online world don't have to be tricky or uncomfortable. Speaking to your child from a young age allows you to create an environment where children share their digital experiences, so it’s important parents have the confidence to support their children and navigate any issues they may face.

"With BT's Skills for Tomorrow, parents now have a fantastic place where they can learn how to help their children safely master the digital world and encourage them to make the most of the opportunities the online world has to offer."​​

With the launch of Skills for Tomorrow, BT is helping to close the digital skills knowledge gap that exists between parents and children - one in five children don’t believe their parents can help them with a technology-based question in the home. BT is committed to supporting and encouraging parents to have these important conversations around technology with their children, starting early.

Notes to Editors

The research was conducted by One Poll.com with 2,000 respondents, 1,000 parents and 1,000 children aged 6-14 between the dates of 15th to 21st January.

About BT Skills for Tomorrow:

Skills for Tomorrow is a major new programme from BT designed to empower 10 million people by giving them the skills they need to flourish in the digital world.

Anyone can choose from a range of free online or face-to-face courses designed to help people feel more confident and comfortable in the online world – whether you’re a parent helping your children understand online issues or a small business owner looking to grow your new business.

Skills for Tomorrow is designed to help parents close the digital skills knowledge gap and support them to speak to their kids about important issues around navigating the online world.

BT has collaborated with leading digital skills organisations such as Internet Matters to collate the best courses and information, in one easy-to-navigate place.

About Internet Matters:

Internet Matters is a non-for-profit organisation that works across industry, government and with schools to reach UK families with tools, tips and resources to help children benefit from connected technology smartly and safely.

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, BT Group’s reported revenue was £23,428m with reported profit before taxation of £2,666m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London stock exchange.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com