The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) has released data that shows a vast majority of parents believe that technology is affecting their children positively in their futures, careers, and life skills (78%) as well as in the realm of creativity (64%). But even more parents are concerned about their children's personal safety and privacy.
"Parents, Privacy & Technology Use" studied parents' thinking and views on technology and their children's lives. They disclosed how informed they considered themselves to be about their kids' online activities, along with how to monitor them. They also wanted to know how they can serve as online models for their offspring.
Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, summarized parents' optimism and concern:
"Parents recognize and value the positive impact that technology and the Internet can have on their child's future, creativity, communications skills and education. Technology's opportunities also require recognition of its challenges, however, and more parents need to be aware of the available resources and tools that will enable good digital parenting and keep our kids safe online."
Researchers found that tech-savvy and more highly educated parents have more confidence about overseeing their children's technology use than those who are less educated. But just 36% of parents said they use parental controls because they trust their children or have already established family rules regarding limits for use.
Thirty-seven percent of parents indicated that they use limits such as linking with their children on social media, restricting data and location functions, and disabling the in-app purchasing option. A whopping 87% of parents indicate that rules are in place regarding what sites they can access (79%), which accounts they are permitted to have (77%), and what they are allowed to post online (75%).
Many parents worry that as their kids are using higher amounts of time on technology, they are becoming less active physically. Other advocacy groups have found that teenagers are averaging nine hours of entertainment media time per day. The study showed that 19% of parents restrict kids to five hours of tech activity or less per week, while 35% of parents set no limits whatsoever.
The Washington Post's Hayley Tsukayama writes that 55% said they allow their children under the age of 12 to open a social networking membership ordinarily reserved for children 13 and up.
Balkam had his organization design the "Good Digital Parenting" online initiative to educate parents on how to navigate our digital age. His organizations and others like it, along with technology firms and the government, must educate families about the benefits and the dangers of the world online, he said.
Over 90% of parents said they would give themselves a grade of "B" in the category of being a good role model. 19% say they have posted something about their children online that embarrassed them, reports Larry Magid of The Huffington Post.
One reason that parents think they have control over technology is because many grew up with technology and now use it on a daily basis. That coupled with the fact that they use technology at work may play a part in parents feeling confident about their ability to manage the tech in their families' lives.