Minority parents more concerned about safety of their children online

Nov. 21, 2013 at 6:55 PM
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EVANSTON, Ill., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Minority parents fear for their kids online and are more concerned than whites about online safety issues, U.S. researchers say.

A collaborative study by researchers at Northwestern University and Microsoft Research found while all parents agree on concerns about issues like stranger danger and exposure to pornography, violent content and bullying, a higher level of concern is expressed by Asian, Hispanic and black parents than by whites.

"Policies that aim to protect children online talk about parents' concerns, assuming parents are this one homogenous group," study co-author Eszter Hargittai said. "When you take a close look at demographic backgrounds of parents, concerns are not uniform across population groups."

The study found urban parents tend to be more concerned than suburban or rural parents, college-educated parents exhibit lower levels of fear than parents with less education regarding stranger danger, and parents who identify themselves as liberal are less concerned than moderates or conservatives about pornography, but more concerned about their child becoming a bully, a Northwestern release said Thursday.

A parent's gender or religious beliefs have little effect on levels of concern, the researchers found.

"Our study highlights how parental concern differs by demographic factors, notably race and ethnicity," study co-author danah boyd of Microsoft Research said. "This raises significant questions about policies intended to empower parents. Which parents -- and, in turn, which youth -- are being empowered by the interventions being developed?"

The results are from a 2011 online survey of 1,000 parents with children ages 10 to 14 in their households. No margin of error was reported.

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