It’s official: technology has made the world a scarier place for parents. In a nationally representative poll of US parents, 44% of moms and dads with under-18s said that they find it frightening kids have so much of the world at their fingertips at such a young age. 12% of parents think technology is overwhelming, especially as they can track what their kid is doing online.
But gadgets are a blessing for 25% of parents, who say their life has been made easier by being able to entertain their kids and even keep track of what they’re doing with a few clicks of a button.
Any parent would say the biggest dangers to kids are from online predators and cyber bullying, something which most parents haven’t experienced themselves and may feel ill-equipped to deal with.
Getting homework help and school resources online might be a small benefit in comparison with the risks kids can face when accessing inappropriate content or meeting strangers online. Parents have been warned to keep track of how secretive their child’s computer use is, for example if they quickly snap shut their laptop if you walk into the room, or unusual credit card charges in case they are in danger.
The most popular method used by US parents to keep track of their kids online is to check up on who their friend list is and which instant messaging buddies they talk to. Parents say they read their kid’s emails and text messages to make sure they’re not in danger, and some look up their child’s profile page to see what pictures they have made public. The survey by YouGov asked parents how they monitored their kids – anonymously! Here’s what America’s moms and dads admitted to doing:
- 44% said they look up their child’s online friends or chat buddies
- 43% said they monitor what pictures their son or daughter uploads
- 43% of parents look through their kid’s Internet browsing history
- 39% read their kid’s text messages and emails
And one in ten (11%) of parents said they even monitor their children’s whereabouts using GPS. It might sound a bit Big Brother to some moms, but it’s become increasingly popular for parents to install GPS track into their kids’ smartphones – which presumably tracks the location of their child, as well as the phone. Here’s hoping these kids aren’t tech savvy enough to disable the trackers.
25% of parents say they’re very strict about how often their kids use technology, limiting smartphone and computer or tablet use to less than an hour per day. Remember the days when it was uncool not to have yo-yo? Simpler times. Now kids are under peer pressure to have the latest smartphone – and with most households in the US having Internet access, how much time do parents allow for their kids to spend on technology?
- 20% of parents said they don’t have a set limit on technology use
- 1 to 3 hours is okay for 34% of parents
- 25% of parents said they let their children have online access for less than an hour a day
Parents: Do you think it’s okay for kids to spend a whole day on Facebook? And how do you cope with monitoring your kids’ activity online? Share your stories here!