Let's face it, no matter how hard we as adults try to keep up, our kids will always know more about what the new big gadgets are. And try as you might to keep your finger on the pulse, keeping an eye on what your offspring are up to on these devices is harder than ever.
If you want to blame anything for this, developments such as smartphones and tablets might be high on the list. In the old days, it was fairly straightforward to monitor their online activities – you just made sure the computer was in the front room, checked that you could see over their shoulder and ignored their moaning that you were being nosy.
Then, to the horror of mums and dads, laptops and cheaper PCs emerged and web browsing retreated to the privacy of their bedrooms. And now smartphones and tablets allow them to connect with their friends online wherever they are, so you can be sure youngsters will find places where their parents won't disturb them.
And let's be honest, banning them from owning a smartphone isn't really a practical solution anymore if you want a quiet life – at least not once they're into their teen years and gadgets become the hub of organising their social activities.
That's why it's more important than ever for parents to understand the risks involved when their kids are going online – and this was the theme of this year's Safer Internet Day. This which took place on February 11th, with the support of hundreds of organisations and high-profile names such as gymnast Beth Tweddle to appeal to youngsters, as well as prime minister David Cameron, who probably doesn't.
But if you were in any doubt that your kids can probably run rings around you when it comes to the latest tech, some research published to coincide with the event should make things clear. It found two out of five youngsters aged between seven and 19 have created an app, game, website or blog – which shows just how naturally the young generation has taken to the latest tech at a time when some adults might struggle to buy a song on iTunes.
Do you know the dangers?
But there may be a lot of work to do to make sure these activities are safe – and getting parents more involved will play a key part in this. A survey conducted by BBC Learning to mark Safer Internet Day revealed many mums and dads are out of touch with what their kids are up to.
Amazingly, one in five adults confessed they were clueless as to what their children did on their smartphone and tablets – and even though 90 per cent stated they had talked to their kids about online safety, the majority are apparently so confident their kids will listen to them that they still allowed unsupervised usage.
Filters – they're not just for coffee
One of the best ways that parents can help keep their kids' browsing habits strictly PG is to make sure they install filters to block inappropriate content from the dark underbelly of the net. The government has plans to make these type of filters active by default for new internet connections, but for now, it will usually be up to parents to take these steps, or face up to some awkward conversations.
And this is something many mums and dads overlook – especially when it comes to mobile devices. The BBC Learning study found over half of parents said they had set up parental controls and filters on their tablets, but inexplicably, only 40 per cent had done the same on their children's smartphones.
David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Labs, told the publication that a frequent problem is that parents do not view smartphones and tablets in the same way as they do PCs, despite the huge capabilities of the latest gadgets.
"When children use mobile devices to access the web, they are using the same internet, with the same risks," he said. "There is a common misconception that smartphones and tablets don't need the same level of protection as a PC."
Keep an eye on your wallet
Of course, it's not just the risk of stumbling across inappropriate material that's a danger to kids. If there's one thing kids are good at, it's spending mum and dad's money – as if you're not careful, letting your offspring loose on your smartphone or tablet can drain your bank balance in the blink of an eye.
This is something that's been in the media a lot recently, with tale after tale of shocked looking parents explaining how their kids accidentally ran up bills of hundreds or even thousands of pounds on in-app purchases in games, while the youngsters try to look innocent and embarrassed, with varying degrees of success.
It's become such an issue that the Office of Fair Trading has promised to crack down on in-app payments, while Apple was recently forced to refund parents in the US $32.5 million (£19.63 million) after their kids were able to make big purchases because iOS doesn't ask for authorisation on every transaction. You'd think someone would have pointed out that tiny design flaw before.
A survey by Kaspersky Labs revealed that 18 per cent of parents had lost money or data from their own phone or tablet because their children had been using it unmonitored – so its vital you take steps to protect this by password-protecting your own tablet and keeping a closer eye on what your kids are up to on theirs.