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Parental and Teen Perception of Internet Security

SHAILA on December 14, 2012

Hart Research Associates recently conducted a quantitative research project to explore and better understand the online behaviour of teens, parental supervision of their teen’s online behaviour, awareness among teens about parental supervision and attitudes of both pertaining to online safety. Two surveys were conducted, one of 511 teens in the age group of 13-17 and the other of 500 parents. While reading the report, one significant factor that jumps out is that teens are not much aware of parental supervision of their online activity.

84% of parents monitor their teen’s online and mobile activity while only 39% of teens believe their parents do so.

There is a significant gap of 45% in perceptional difference in what parents actually do and teen awareness. 11% of teens say their parents monitor their online activity very closely while parental survey reports of 31%. Again, 28% of teens believe that their parents monitor somewhat closely compared to 53% of parents in actuality.

91% of parents say they are informed about what their teens do online and on their cell phone

37% of parents say they are very well informed, compared to teens’ perception of 21%, a 16% of gap here. 54% of parents are somewhat informed of their child’s online activity while only 41% of teens think so, again a difference of 13%.

Perhaps the biggest difference between teens knowledge about their parental supervision pertains to their access of social networking sites

Among the varied social networking sites, 38% of parents know well about their teens’ Twitter usage, while only 14% of teens think so.

Notable differences exist among other social networking sites too.

  • Face book – an 18% gap
  • Pinterest – a 14% and
  • Tumblr – a 15% gap
For other online platforms the gap between teen perception and parental supervision is nil or little
  • Online gaming - teens are aware that their parents know they game.
  • Texting awareness speaks of a 3 point gap,
  • Instant messaging a 7 point gap and,
  • Teen YouTube usage reveals a 10point gap.

Online Safety – Teen and Parental Perception

Parents and teens are more or less on the same page pertaining to online safety.
  • 95% of teens feel safe online, and 94% of parents agree with this.  
  • An open ended question was asked to know what safety meant to the different groups. 25% of the teens said being safe was having their online privacy well protected, while 17% equated safety to prevention of harm or harassment.
  • Parental perception of safety involved avoiding stranger danger situations, said 29%, and 26% said it was ensuring their children's online privacy and protection of personal information.
Both, parents and teens are similarly concerned regarding potential outcome of teen’s online activity. However, attitudinal differences are evident in their sensitivity to stranger danger scenario and access to inappropriate content.
  • Parents and teens widely differ about the fear of exposure to inappropriate concern. 79% of parents fear this compared to just 53% of teens.
  • Similar differences are exhibited by both in the stranger danger situation.  78% of parents worry a stranger might learn of their teen while just 59% of teens view this as a threat.
An online posting might bring trouble, worry parents and teens, though in varying degrees.
  • 57% of parents and 43% of teens fear electronic bullying for a posting made by a teen.  
  • 50% of parents worry their children may be teased for their online postings compared to 41% of teens.
  • Teens and parents are equally worried about posting made by teens which might affect their relationship with their educators, and impact future college admissions or job potential.  
Parents and teens identify identity theft to be the biggest online safety issue
  • Teens protect their online privacy especially for social networking sites.
  • 81% of teens have set privacy settings on their social networking account.
  • 65% place a limit on whom they share their posts with, and
  • 54% have removed a tagged photo.

Despite these precautions 51% of teens have done something by which an outsider can access their information like

  • commenting on a blog
  • sharing recommendations for TV shows
  • mentioning the place they lived
  • sharing their name, address or passwords, which are really dangerous or
  • planning to meet a stranger which is very risky

Parental worry over their teens’ safety on the internet is justified in most cases. As concerned parents ourselves, we fully empathise.  We at Mobicip therefore work to provide a safe, secure and customised internet for your family, which can be accessed from any mobile device.

The Mobicip crew lauds parents taking steps to provide online protection to their children. But we recommend keeping your children informed about the steps taken. Parents check browsing history, log on to their children’s face book accounts and read messages, but there exists a great gap in how much their teens are aware of this supervision.  93% of parents say they converse with their teens about online safety precautions taken by them, while only 61% mentioned their parents ever spoke about this. If you are a parent, that is a statistic worth thinking about.

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