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Parents vs. Teens on Internet Sharing

October 4, 2012 at 9:23 AM

sharing informationFrom photos to group homework assignments, the Internet is the way that our kids (and adults, too, if we're honest) communicate with others. We share videos and music via Twitter and Pinterest. We post to each other's Facebook walls and chat or instant message with others. We blog about ourselves and our interests. What does all that information sharing amount to?

Although parents and their kids both share a lot online, the perception out there about information sharing online is different. You and I are likely to think that others are sharing too much; our children are more likely to say that others aren't.When asked, 90% of adults agree that people share too much information on the Internet while only 74% of teens do. Why the discrepancy? There are two reasons I can think of:

  1. Parents are wiser about Internet privacy and the dangers of sharing too much, while teens are more naïve (or more likely to feel that nothing bad could happen to them;) or

  2. Parents are more paranoid about the dangers of oversharing, while teens are a little more relaxed when it comes to online sharing.

I happen to believe that the answer is a little bit of both.

I've seen a number of encouraging studies that point out high percentages of teens who actively manage their privacy settings, protect themselves from online strangers, and carefully choose what they share and with whom. I think that many teens are extremely informed and in some ways, wiser than their parents about their online safety. 

On the other hand, I have also seen a number of disheartening news stories about teens who have been victimized after sharing too much information with the wrong person who befriended them in a chat room or sent them a friend request. I know that many kids are not as vigilant about protecting their online safety as they should be. That goes for parents too- a little parental monitoring is a good safety net.

The next time you're watching TV together and it goes to commercial, take a minute to ask your teens what they think about Internet sharing. Do people share too much? How much is too much? It's a good conversation to have, and a commercial break is just about how much time you have to dwell on the subject before your teen starts to roll their eyes.

-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans

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Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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