Use Of Private Teen Info Cause Of Parental Concern
November 20, 2012

Parents Concerned About Use Of Teens’ Information

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

While the Internet has become a much safer place than it once was in its earlier, wild west days, there is still some concern that it´s not the safest place for kids and teens. Thanks to education and a few particularly eye-opening television specials about the dangers of talking to strangers on the Internet, these fears have waned somewhat. Now, the larger concern for parents of teenagers is how their information is stored and used and how some of their activity could come back to haunt them one day. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has conducted a new survey of 802 parents of teens and has concluded that while many still have a concern for how their teens interact with strangers online, more parents are now concerned with who is watching and what information will be stored.

This survey also found that these parents aren´t just wringing their hands and answering surveys about their concerns, they´re making moves to watch and protect their teens wherever possible.

According to the Pew survey, 81 percent of parents have said they are concerned with the amount of information being collected by advertisers and other third parties. Forty-six of these parents said they were “very concerned” about the kinds of information these companies are learning about their teenagers through watching their behaviors online.

While controlling what information is collected and stored about their teens is largely out of their control, a majority of these parents also said they were concerned with the way their children were managing their reputations online. Sixty-nine percent of these parents told Pew surveyors they were concerned with their child´s reputation online, while 49 percent said they were “very concerned” about it.

Another 69 percent said they were concerned that their teen´s behavior online would one day affect their future endeavors, both academically and in their careers. No doubt the not-so-new trend of employers scoping out potential recruits online has struck a chord with these parents, as 44 percent of them reported being “very concerned.”

While surveying these parents, the Pew group found that those parents with younger teenagers, ages 12 and 13, were even more concerned about their child´s online life.

For instance, 57 percent of these parents reported being “very concerned” about the way their child manages their reputation online.

All parents reported being concerned with the way their children interacted with people they didn´t know online. Of all the 802 parents surveyed, 72 percent said they were concerned about their teen´s interactions with strangers online, while 53 percent said they were “very concerned.”

As one might expect, this number was higher for those parents of younger teens, with 63 percent saying they were “very concerned” about these interactions with strangers.

As a way to act on these concerns, the Pew group has found that many parents are taking a proactive approach, discussing these concerns with their teens, as well as watching over their behavior on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the survey, 59 percent of parents have talked with their teens when they´ve seen something concerning on their profiles.

The survey even found that 42 percent of these parents went online to search for their child, while 50 percent have even used parental controls to monitor their child´s behavior online.

These numbers from the Pew group sound promising, however an earlier report from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) suggests a wide gap between what teens do on the Internet and what parents know their kids are doing online. According to the FOSI report, 91 percent of parents claim to be aware of their child´s online activity, but only 62 percent of teens agree that their parents really are aware of their online behavior.

In terms of safety, the FOSI report found that even more parents and teenagers feel safe online, with 95 percent of teens reporting feeling safe and 94 percent of parents agreeing.