Parents are scared of their kids’ social media use

A new survey from digital safety non-profit the Family Online Safety Institute has found that parents are more concerned about their children’s social media use than any other online activity. (Has no one told them about p-o-r-n? Or the dark web? Or Reddit?)

Anyway, as The Guardian reports, the US-based organisation found that only 26% of parents thought the benefits of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc were worth the potential risks. Whereas most parents believed other forms of technology were largely beneficial, the same wasn’t true for social media.

Interestingly, a slight majority of parents felt there were more positives than negatives to smartphone use, even though it opens up a whole secretive new world of social media opportunities. Over half of people surveyed allowed their children to have at least one social media account, but 78% checked their posts.

Although we see a lot of media coverage of online harassment and bullying, parents’ main concern seemed to be not that their child might be under attack, but that they could overshare, putting them at risk. Parents also worried (probably with good reason) that they couldn’t keep up with the different platforms, noting that when they joined Facebook, their kids were off.

Seventy-six percent of parents expressed concern that their children might see inappropriate content and the same number were worried that companies were tracking their children’s behaviour for marketing purposes (though I’m not sure if this means they think their kids are going to be worn down by cookies or tracked down in their homes).

No matter how concerned (or not) parents felt about their kids’ internet use, they felt less confident of being able to monitor it as their children got older. According to the report, ‘While many parents monitor their children’s online activity and are confident in their ability to do so, the degree to which parents actively oversee their children’s online activities and their confidence in their ability to do so decreases the older their child is.’

Which just proves that the internet hasn’t changed a timeless truth: parents have never known exactly what teenagers are up to, and probably never will.

Image via Pixabay.

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