“Policies that aim to protect children online talk about parents’ concerns, assuming parents are this one [uniform] group,” study co-author Eszter Hargittai, a professor in the department of communication studies at Northwestern University, said in a university news release. “When you take a close look at demographic backgrounds of parents, concerns are not uniform across population groups.”
The study, published recently in the journal Policy & Internet, also found that urban parents tended to be more concerned about online threats to their children than suburban or rural parents. In addition, college-educated parents had lower levels of fear than those with less education.
Among the other findings:
- Having a higher income was related to lower fears about children’s exposure to pornography, being bullied or being a bully.
- Parents with liberal political views were less concerned than moderates or conservatives about pornography. Liberal parents, however, were more concerned about their child becoming a bully.
- Parents of daughters and of younger children were more concerned than parents of sons about the threat of their children meeting a stranger or being exposed to violent content.
- Parents’ gender or religious beliefs have little effect on their levels of concern.
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The FBI offers parents a guide to Internet safety.
Most childrens internet use takes place away from the watchful eye of a parent and is still prone to cruel and abusive behaviors, according to McAfee and the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Worse still, research suggests that some parents may be unintentionally exposing their children to inappropriate behavior and cyber-bullying through lack of controls and by setting up childrens access to social networks.
Cyber-bullying behaviors are commonplace, with 16% having been the recipients of mean or cruel behavior online and 22% having witnessed the same behaviors directed at a classmate or friend.
Findings showed that children and teens are prolific users of the internet; with 26% spending between 4-6 hours or more online every day with much of that internet use taking place away from the watchful eye of a parent; 53% of children go online in their own room, 46% on a games console and 66% on a personal smartphone. In addition, nearly one in five (19%) of teens admit to lying to their parents about what they’ve been doing online.
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Sadly, parents cannot possibly control every aspect of a child’s life. The best thing they can do is teach their children these important safety lessons, particularly in a situation where the parents can’t be there with them.
The best thing parents can do is teach their children these important safety lessons © Karen Struthers – Fotolia.com Parents would love to keep their children safe at all times, and ensure that they’re always protected. Sadly, parents cannot possibly control every aspect of a child’s life.
When they are young, teach your child to never leave your sight or the sight of someone you’ve given permission for them to be with. Tell them to get help from an authority for help if they become separated from you, and to never the vicinity of the area where they last saw you, unless in an emergency situation. As early as possible, teach them to never get into a car or agree to walk or talk with anyone you haven’t told them they can travel or communicate with. Teach them that if they feel uncomfortable or in danger, to refuse to engage with the aggressor and to walk or run away from the situation as quickly as possible, notifying the authorities, if possible.
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