If you are hoping to ask parents what kids do on the Internet, think again! A new study by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)—and co-sponsored by Microsoft—looking at online safety attitudes and behaviors has found a “digital disconnect” between parents and their teenage children.
The survey, which interviewed 804 online teens between the ages of 13 and 17 and a separate sample 810 online parents of teens of the same age group, found that parents don’t necessarily know what their kids are up to. For example, 60 percent of teens have online accounts that parents are not aware of and only 28 percent of parents have suspicions that their teens have secret accounts.
The disconnect is also seen in disciplining and monitoring Internet usage. While 67 percent of parents surveyed said they have rules mandating their teens would report online incidents, a mere 32 percent of teens self-reported that their parents had such a policy.
“It’s one thing to say: ‘My parents have a rule but I don’t follow it’,” said Michael Kaiser, the executive director of the NCSA, to The Guardian. “It’s another to have young people saying that those rules don’t even exist.”
The significance of this market research lies in the safety of children: teens are increasingly more active on the Internet and the web is not always a safe space. These reasons, coupled with the NCSA’s findings of a “digital disconnect,” spotlight the importance to get parents and teens on the same wavelength regarding the Internet.
The immediate solution, according to Kaiser, is embracing the fact that parents can’t know everything about their child’s digital presence.
“A lot of the emphasis has been on knowing everything your child does online –tracking their downloads, understanding every new app that comes out,” he said to The Guardian. “We think that parents should probably move away from trying to understand everything their kid is doing online and [toward] helping their kid negotiate their online lives and make decisions.”