For generations, parents have been suspicious of teens’ social activities – and have employed any number of tactics to uncover the truth. Today’s parents are no exception; they simply have more channels to monitor. The fifth Digital Diaries installment conducted by AVG Technologies revealed that 60 percent of American parents surveyed admit to accessing teens’ Facebook accounts without their knowledge, with moms most likely to be the guilty party.
AVG’s global, multi-year, Digital Diaries research project has aimed to determine how the Internet is impacting children as they play, learn, and grow up in today’s digital world. Entitled “Digital Coming of Age,” the latest phase of the study surveyed 4,400 parents with 14-17 year olds in 11 countries.
To begin, findings show that 75 percent of American parents stay connected to their children on social networks, which is significantly more than parents in other countries. Across the globe, it’s less common for parents to be “friends” with their teens on Facebook to be able to monitor the activity teens permit them to see through their privacy settings. In fact, this number is as low as 10 percent in Japan and 33 percent in France.
“I’m convinced that parents need to communicate more with their teens about the digital coming of age. Even though most teens have intuitive online abilities, parents need to be setting limits, rules, and staying aware of what’s going on,” said Rona Renner, RN, temperament specialist/parent educator and founder of Childhood Matters (a cyberbullying prevention group). “Safely navigating new technologies in the digital age is quickly becoming an important task in adolescent development. Successfully accomplishing this takes families working together to build a sense of safety, trust, and respect. AVG’s Digital Diaries research help parents of teens as they find the right balance between hands on and hands off parenting.”
Digital Coming of Age further reveals American parents are keeping tabs on their teens’ online activity. A majority of moms and dads actually give their children credit for doing the right thing and have minimal concerns about illegal, inappropriate and career-damaging behaviors, however they continue to monitor their teens in today’s connected age. The study revealed:
- Twenty percent suspect their children are accessing pornography or illegal music downloads; and 5 percent suspect their children of gambling.
- Twenty percent of American parents also suspect their teens of sexting via their mobile phones.
- Almost half of parents in the U.S. believe their teens conduct relationships with friends and family via their mobile phones, yet only 9 percent think these relationships are sexual.
- An overwhelming 80 percent of parents believe their teens have never met someone in person that they first met online.