One way to keep track of your teens on Facebook is to create your own account and Friend them. Some teens like it, according to the new Pew report on teens, parents, and online activities. Others don’t, and block their parents from seeing their wall or photos.
What other protective steps have you taken for your teens?
Parental controls are the most common method parents use to regulate what their teens do online. Overall, about half of parents say they do this. By using these controls, they block or filter access to certain kinds of sites and materials. Some parental controls provide surveillance tools so that parents can see a history of what their kids do.
Neither Moms nor Dads are more likely to use parental controls, according to the Pew study. But there is a difference by age. Younger parents are more likely to use parental controls, perhaps because older parents are members of the analog generation and don’t know how to use the controls.
Use of parental controls also varies by household income. Only a third (35%) of parents in households with annual incomes of $30,000 or less use parental controls to regulate their kids’ online activities. The majority of parents with household incomes greater than $30,000 use parental controls. The highest percentage (56%) occurs in households with incomes of $50,000 or higher.
The child’s age is one of the biggest predictors. Parents of children ages 12-13 are considerably more likely to use parental controls, compared to those with kids who are older.
In my experience, parental controls work but are not as effective as we would like. Sophisticated advertisers and computer experts seem to find and exploit weaknesses in parental controls, or to have ways to work around them. We don’t let our young son spend much time online. When he is online, we keep a pretty close eye on what he does. Yet I am sometimes shocked at what he gets exposed to.
Do you use parental controls?
What works—or doesn’t work?
What’s the most effective way to protect your kids online?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.