How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents

Feb 07, 2013

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Kids are getting better at technology than their parents and parents are starting to give up because they don’t know how to monitor their kids’ online behavior. McAfee recently released findings from the 2012 Teen Internet Behavior Study that exposed how teens are behaving—or not—online. The results are sobering. They found that teens are doing all sorts of inappropriate and illegal things on the Internet and parents are unaware. With 70% of tech-savvy teens hiding their online behavior, it’s no surprise that parents are struggling to keep up.

What are the inappropriate and illegal online behaviors that teens are exhibiting? 16% of teens said they had looked for test answers on their phone and 48.1% admitted to having looked up answers online. More disturbingly, teens are also accessing inappropriate content, with 43% accessing simulated violence, 36% accessing sexual topics, and 32% accessing nude content or pornography. Teens also do such illegal things as hacking into a social network account (15%), accessing pirated movies and music (30.7%), and hacking into someone’s email (8.7%). Parents are oblivious to just how much their teenagers are getting away with—77.2% say that they are not very or not at all worried about their teens cheating online and 73.5% trust their teens to not access age-inappropriate content online.

It’s important to monitor what your teens are doing online because they are getting themselves in trouble. Over half of teens with a social network account have experienced negative consequences. 35.4% argue with friends, 25.2% get into trouble at home or school, 20% end friendships, 6.8% fear for their safety, and 4.5% get into physical fights. But only 22% of parents believe that their teens can get into that much trouble online.

25% of parents are not monitoring their children’s online behaviors because they are overwhelmed by technology. Some parents are fighting back by using parental control software (49%), obtaining email and social network passwords (44%), taking away computer and mobile devices (27%), and using location-based devices to keep track of teens (10%).

Parents need to take charge of their teens’ online activity by monitoring what their teens are doing and setting time limits. Teens, on average, spend about five hours a day online, while their parents think they only spend an average of three hours a day online. Internet filtering software is one solution available to parents for monitoring teens’ online behavior. Net Nanny can keep track of all the sites your teen visits and enforce time limits for online activity. Parents should talk with their teens about what is and isn’t appropriate online behavior and set up rules and limits for their teens. Using available tools and resources can put parents back in charge of their teens’ online behavior.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.