Parent engagement, not policing, best policy for Internet use(Read article summary)
Parent engagement, not harsh policing may be the best policy for Internet use, according to a recent study of the habits and techniques of thousands of teens and their families in over two dozen countries.
David Spencer/The State Journal-Register/AP
San Jose, Calif.
The guidance has never been clearer, nor have the reasons for it.
Based on surveys of 25,142 families of 9-to-16-year-olds in 25 countries, researchers came to the conclusion that parentsâ active engagement with their kidsâ Internet activities works better than restricting them. They found that, while both imposing restrictions (e.g., installing a filter, banning certain Web sites, or restricting activities like photo-sharing or texting) and actively engaging reduced ârisks of harm,â the more restrictive approach also reduced childrenâs opportunities online.
âFor parents, talking to their child about the internet, encouraging them to explore alone but being nearby in case they are needed and talking to them about what they do online are all ways in which they can reduce online risks without reducing their childâs opportunities,â said EU Kids Online research director Sonia Livingstone in a press release.
Ms. Livingstone also said that the surveys found a generally âpositive picture in which children welcome parental interest and activities, and parents express confidence in their childrenâs abilities.â
In their analysis â âHow can parents support childrenâs Internet safety?â â the researchers said that âCynicism that what parents do is not valued, or that children will always evade parental guidance, is ungrounded.â
More than two-thirds of the young people surveyed said their parentsâ guidance is helpful â â27 percent âveryâ, 43 percent âa bitâ,â and the 13-to-16-year-olds as much as the younger children.
This resonates closely with what the Pew Internet Project found in its research last year (see âParents Matterâ in my post about it). In fact, the EU Kids Online researchers even heard a small percentage of children say they wish their parents were more involved in their online experiences (5 percent âa lotâ more and 10 percent âa littleâ more).
Interestingly, two-thirds of the young respondents also said their parents âknow a lot (32 percent) or quite a lot (36 percent) about what they do online.â Of course there were differences in digital parenting styles from country to country.
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