Comparing dads across nations: Who has the strictest parents?

Which country has the strictest parents? ESET's recent survey tests whether old stereotypes ring true in the digital era.

Which country has the strictest parents? ESET’s recent survey tests whether old stereotypes ring true in the digital era.

Everyone knows it from the movies. Mother is the loving one, father is the authority. But does this stereotype ring true in the digital era? Looking at ESET’s recent survey it seems the world has been turned upside down, making today’s dads more lenient, especially when it comes to introducing their children to new technology.

But even a father’s patience has its limits. As well as relying on specialized digital parenting tools, they still sometimes reach for that ‘old school’ parenting technique – putting their foot down. To find out how fathers compare in the US, Germany, Russia and the UK, ESET has taken a deeper look into data to determine which country has the strictest parents.

Which country has the strictest parents?

Western children have stricter rules

According to figures, the biggest concern for fathers in all four countries is the use of social networks. German kids have to wait half a year after their 10th birthday to get dad’s permission to set up their own profile. American and British fathers are less conservative, allowing them this privilege six months earlier. The least concerned are Russian men, giving their consent well before the ninth birthday of their children.

What is the appropriate age for a first mobile phone? Fathers in Germany, the US and the UK consider approximately 9.5 years as the suitable threshold. Their Russian counterparts are less restrictive, giving kids their first device two years earlier.

The internet offers a lot of great stuff, but if surfing without supervision, children can also encounter inappropriate content or, in the worst case scenario, even online predators. To counter this risk, fathers across all four countries are keeping an eye on their young ones for at least nine years, with the exception of Russian men, who do so only until their children turn 8.5 years.

Who has the strictest parents? Plus, who is stricter? Mothers or fathers?

Only Russian dads are as strict as moms

“So which parent is stricter?” you might ask. As we mentioned earlier, fathers seem to be the softer of the two. This is especially true in the US. No matter whether we’re talking about surfing the internet unsupervised, starting an account on social networks or getting a first mobile phone, fathers allow their kids to do all of these activities a year earlier than mothers.

ESET’s survey has also observed the trend of a soft dad and a strict mom in the UK, although with milder differences. Fathers would let their little ones create a social network profile shortly after they’ve reached 10 years of age, whereas mothers would do so 11 months later.

The survey has also shown more than half a year’s gap between dads’ and moms’ rules when it comes to surfing online without supervision, as well as giving their child their first mobile phone.

The smallest difference was observed amongst Russian couples, as moms and dads were pretty well aligned in what they thought was the appropriate age for all the aforementioned digital activities.

Our internet survey was carried out in January 2016 and focused on the attitudes of a demographically representative sample of around 1,000 individuals in the online populations of each of the following four countries: the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Russia. UK, US and German data was provided by Google Consumer Surveys, while Russian data was provided by Merku.

Questions in the survey:

  • How old was your child when you allowed him/her to play on a playground without supervision?
  • How old was your child when you allowed him/her to surf the web unsupervised?
  • How old was your child when he/she first received a mobile phone?
  • How old was your child when he/she first opened an account on a social network?