More than half (55 percent) of parents 'keep an eye' on their kids by checking their profile on social networking sites such as Facebook, says Bullguard.

Research by the security firm revealed a further 5 percent admitted they would snoop on their children if they knew how. Four in 10 parents regularly check their child's status updates, while 39 percent look at messages posted on their child's Facebook wall and nearly a third (29 percent) check out the images their kids have been tagged in.

A third of parents admit they're being over-protective in checking their children's social networking profile but nearly a quarter (24 percent) claim it's the only way they can really see what their child is up to. Over a third of parents also revealed they check up on them because they want to know the sort of people their kids are mixing with.

Furthermore, 11 percent have set up a Facebook account purely to snoop on their children. Nearly two in ten (16 percent) of parents said they had tried to 'friend' their child on Facebook, but 30 percent of these said they'd had their request rejected. Meanwhile 13 percent admitted they log in using a friend's account to check up on their kids.

And it's not just social networking activity parents want to snoop at. More than three quarters (76 percent) check browser history to ensure their kids aren't visiting unsuitable sites when surfing the web, while 21 percent check out instant messaging history and 23 percent snoop through the sent items in email accounts. More than four in 10 parents said they were concerned about malware infecting their PC if a child visits unsuitable websites, and 14 percent admitted they were simply being "nosy".

"It certainly seems as though parents are taking advantage of the trail of information left by web use in order to check up on their kids," says Claus Villumsen, internet security expert with antivirus company BullGuard.

"These figures are initially quite surprising, but since certain malicious third parties have been known to prey on unsuspecting or over-trusting individuals online, it does seem as though many could have legitimate concerns."