On average, 93% of American teens go online regularly; 80% of these teen internet users are involved in at least one social networking site. On the high end of the spectrum, 92% of web-savvy girls ages 14 to 17 are involved in social networking. With 93% of teenage social media users having Facebook accounts, we might as well talk about the potential dangers specifically relating to Facebook and how parents can help curb these dangers. In this article, we’ll focus on the potential dangers and typical parental responses.
The Teen Perspective
Once upon a time, when the internet was fairly novel and we were just getting the hang of it all, cyberspace seemed like a fantasy land, entirely disconnected from reality. Of course, from law suits and lost jobs to sexual predators and affairs, most adults have experienced or heard about some pretty real problems that have their genesis online. Judging from recent survey findings, some teens area still living in that fairy tale world, while others simply fail to consider the ramifications of their online activity or that of their “Friends.” Here are a few issues that cause concern:
• 55% of teens admitted to giving out personally identifiable information to people they don’t know.
• 29% of teens admitted that they have posted mean or embarrassing information or photos of others.
• 29% of teens say they’ve been contacted by or even stalked by someone they don’t know.
• 24% of teens have had embarrassing or private information about them made public without their consent.
Clearly, some parental guidance is needed in order to help teens avoid falling prey to dangerous or demeaning situations as well as to prevent them from victimizing others.
The Parental Response
Among many other interesting statistics about parents of teens on social networking sites, here are some of the most poignant:
• 88% of parents realize that their teens communicate online with people they don’t know in person.
• 61% of parents are primarily concerned with their teens sharing personal information online.
• 40% of parents worry about their teen’s safety due to social networking, even when they’re at home.
• 60% of adults think parents should have complete access to teens’ online activities.
When you consider the fact that most parents are far from ignorant of dangers, it’s a bit surprising that only 34% of parents check up on their children’s social networking. Maybe part of the reason is that their children have expressed their own perspective on such “spying”: 39% believe their online activities to be private, and a close 38% say they’d be offended if their parents utilized Facebook parental controls. An additional 25% say they’d be shocked or hurt to find out their parents were spying on them. On the flip side, 67% say that they can hide their online activities from parents, and 43% say they would change how they behave online if they knew their parents were watching.
Photo credits: Top © Andres Rodriguez / Fotolia. Bottom © listercz / Fotolia.