“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.
The FBI offers parents a guide to Internet safety.