Parents urged to keep talking to children about what they're doing online as they grow up

A new report has found that as children get older, parents are less likely to talk about what they're doing online.

Netsafe's new data shows seven in 10 Kiwi parents are setting rules around how long or when their child can go online, but only 40 percent are using parental controls to block or filter the types of websites they can access.

Netsafe spoke to more than 2000 parents and their children aged between 11 and 17 years old,  and CEO Martin Cocker says the most important message from the report is to have continued conversations with our young people.

"Whatever your children do online, get them talking to you about it. Have that conversation when nothing is going wrong and then it will be a lot easier to pick up the conversation when something is going wrong," he says.

Although the report found parents are less likely to talk about what their children are doing online as they get older, Martin says the topic of conversation needs to evolve as the children do.

"Get people discussing some of those topics that they find difficult to get across in families. Sexting, nudes, pornography consumption."

Kiwi dad Duane McDougall is using a range of tools to protect his kids, who are 12 and 15 years old. He's facing the predicament of trying to keep his children safe online while maximising the opportunities the internet has to offer.

"We use Google Nest that I can put some restrictions on so they can't use any R-18 websites, and also means I can control when their internet turns on and off."

He says he knows it can be hard for parents, but when it comes to the online world, he believes it's important to play the parent, not the friend.

"It's just the gentle and constant reminders that they need to protect themselves. And me as a parent staying up to date with the tools that I need to keep them safe."