Parents join Facebook to keep eye on kids

Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Parents worried about what their teenagers are doing online are joining social networks to keep better tabs on them, U.S. researchers said.

A survey by Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found most parents of teenagers are concerned about what their teenage children do online and how their behavior could be monitored by others.

Eighty-one percent of parents of online teens say they're concerned about how much information advertisers can learn about their child's online behavior. Seventy-two percent of parents say they're concerned about how their child interacts online with people they do not know and 69 percent of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child's online activity might affect their future academic or employment opportunities.

Many parents say they've helped their teens set up privacy settings to protect their profiles and personal information. Fifty percent of parents said they've used parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering or monitoring their child's online activities. Forty-two percent of parents said they've searched for their child's name online to see what information is available about him or her.

Parents are also engaging in social media as a way of keeping any eye on their teen's activity. The survey found 66 of all parents who have a child between the ages of 12 and 17 say they use a social networking site, up from 58 percent in 2011.

"While parents may forge connections with their teens on social media in order to passively observe them, many are also actively engaging with their children and making their presence known," researchers said Tuesday in their report.

Half of parents who use social media say they have commented or responded directly to something that was posted to their child's profile or account.

The findings, based on phone surveys of 802 parents and their 802 teens, have a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. The report also includes information gathered through focus groups in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

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