In November 2014, the Family Online Safety Institute released the findings of a study, titled “Parenting in the Digital Age,” and the data that was gleaned from the research may come as a bit of a surprise to some adults and parents, especially those who are looking for better ways to monitor internet activity of their kids.
First, let’s take a quick look at some of the statistics from the report:
95% of parents monitor their kids’ internet activity to some extent, and 55% of parents say that they monitor internet activity very closely.
80% of parents with young children say that they’e confident in their ability to protect kids on social media sites and cell phone apps simply because they know more about technology than their children; parents of teens between the ages of 14 and 17, however, don’t feel quite so confident. Only 36% of parents with kids in this age group feel that they know enough about technology to protect their kids and monitor internet activity efficiently.
53% of parents note that the internet does possess useful resources for their children, and they believe that the benefits of using the internet outweigh the possible dangers. 42% of parents state that the benefits are about equal to the risks, and only 5% of parents say that the risks of internet usage are greater than the benefits.
So what does all of this mean?
Not only has the importance of internet grown exponentially in the past decade or so, but it’s now possible to access the internet nearly anywhere and on any electronic device.
Secondly, like most technology, parents tend to understand it more than their kids — but only up until a certain age. The older they get, the harder it is to protect your kids online and to use internet content filtering software that they won’t be able to circumvent.
The third point is that many parents want to trust their kids, and many parents do trust their kids — it’s the rest of the internet that they don’t trust. This notion often gets twisted, or even misunderstood, when parents try to explain to their kids why they’ve installed cellphone and social media monitoring software.
Believe it or not, older kids and teens generally understand that the internet can be a dangerous place, and they understand the importance of safe internet practices — this notion is often ignored or understated as well. Ultimately, it tends to be difficult for parents to ensure the safety of their kids online simply because of all these misunderstandings.
What we’re trying to say here is that internet activity monitoring tools can be extremely useful, and they can put you at ease if you’re prone to worrying about what your kids see and do online. But make sure that you also give your kids an opportunity to express their own concerns, understand why their internet activity and text messages are being monitored, and feel comfortable enough to come to you if they see something inappropriate online.