Pew Survey Finds Most Parents Have Fears About Teen Internet Use, But Few Are Taking Steps To Insure Children’s Online Privacy

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A new survey released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that a majority of parents have concerns regarding the collection of their children’s online data by advertisers and websites, as well as how regular Internet use may adversly affect their teens.

Parents, Teens and Online Privacy” evaluates information collected over a two month span from more than 800 parents, all of whom have children ages 12 to 17. According to researchers, four out of five parents said they were “concerned” about the amount of personal data online advertisers may collect from their children, with about 40 percent of parents stating they were “very concerned” about how much information was being collected from their teens.

More than 70 percent of parents said they had concerns about how their children interacted with others online, with more than half of participants stating they were “very concerned” about their teens’ communication with strangers on the Internet. Additionally, 69 percent of parents said they had concerns about how online activity may negatively affect their children’s reputations and future education and job opportunities, with more than 40 percent of respondents stating they had deep concerns that online activity may tarnish their children’s reputations or prevent them from obtaining academic or employment opportunities in the future.

Researchers indicate that the findings are particularly pronounced for younger teens, with 63 percent of parents with 12- and 13-year-old children stating they had deep worries about who their teens interacted with online. More than half of parents with children, ages 12 to 13, also said they were “very concerned” about how their teens manage their online reputations.

Nearly three out of five respondents said they have talked to their teen because they were concerned about things their children have posted on social networking sites. Only 39 percent of respondents, however, said they have helped their children with privacy settings for their accounts on websites like Facebook, with researchers adding that just 44 percent of parents have actually read the privacy policies of social networking sites their children use.