Parenting And The Internet

We recently spoke with nearly 1,000 Moms of kids aged 8 to 13 years about their children's online behavior and why they worry about their actions online.

Online Behavior

Typically, kids express an interest in "social networking" sites around the age of 10. At that age, 44% of kids join online communities to connect with friends and other kids from school. Their desire to join these sites primarily stems from an interest in continuing conversations with their friends after school and on weekends, rather than peer pressure. One-third also turn to social networking sites to communicate with family members online, as well as to stay in touch with others who may be separated by distance.

Finally, the allure of online gaming affects kids of all ages, especially those moving into the tween years. Moms steer younger kids (under 6 years) towards educational, "kid-friendly" sites such as PBS or National Geographic Kids. But as children progress through elementary school and solidify friendships, they want to move away from sites perceived as "baby-ish" and into more popular communities.



Why Moms Worry

  • Moms worry that their children may be exposed to inappropriate content and "stranger danger."
  • 61% Moms worry about their child unknowingly posting personal information
  • 40% fear their child might post information online that can never be removed or deleted
  • 30% worry their kids might lie about their age
  • 23% fear their child may be involved in cyber-bulling behavior
  • Even Moms with younger children understand the larger, long-term ramifications of kids sharing online. Regardless of their child's age, 55% of Moms feel acutely aware that colleges search online for background information when kids apply to college. Awareness shifts closer to 60% as kids enter junior high/high school.

Moms actively supervise their children's use of social networking and gaming sites:

  • Most children who spend time on social networking or gaming sites do not play unsupervised. Nearly 70% of Moms retain control of where and when their 8-13-year-old children play.
  • The majority of Moms know their children's passwords and nearly all have established appropriate and clear online rules and guidelines for them.
  • The majority of Moms indicate their children may not join a social networking site unless a parent joins as well.

Bottom line for marketers creating online content for kids: While Moms allow their children access to many popular social networking and gaming sites online, they retain tight control over their child's activities. Moms perceive various sites differently, particularly when participation involves young family members.

  • Understand that, for Mom, different social networking sites connote varying levels of safety and appropriateness for their children.
  • Address Moms' concern that kids may be exposed to inappropriate content and "stranger danger."
  • Address their concerns about reputation management and privacy issues.
4 comments about "Parenting And The Internet ".
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  1. Genna Sarnak, June 9, 2010 at 11:08 a.m.

    Great article. Very informative and relevant!

  2. Lee Rappaport, June 9, 2010 at 1:56 p.m.

    Scary facts but true. Kudos on a fine article, Tracey.

    As a childcare advisor, working with host families and au pairs, I make sure that very specific guidelines are given to the au pairs about their children's online activities.

    What sites can the kids' visit? Who much time can each child be on the computer?

    Families should write instructions for babysitters, mother-in-laws or nannies about online usage. Children will try to take advantages of the situation when parents are not present, unless this is addressed.

  3. Scataboosh Fandango from None, June 9, 2010 at 6:47 p.m.

    An excellent summary of the concerns and the need to recognize what moms are looking for. I certainly check to see that any site used by children controls privacy well. It's also vital that both parents actively discuss the boundaries of internet engagement & share this with their children as part of general conversation. And I think it's important to recognize that moms are increasingly concerned about the levels and type of advertising on a site their child is playing on or using - that is only going to concern moms more over time.

  4. Ellen Lebowitz from Ellen Lebowitz Press, June 21, 2010 at 7:04 p.m.

    Excellent article, Tracey. I'm not a parent but I think parents have every right and reason to be concerned.

    The web was created, so to speak, as an information sharing platform. I'm sure some kids do use it for research but with race to post on facebook and other social networking sites, I think it's the smart and responsible parents who, at the very least are interested in where their kids are going online.

    I don't think parents want to police their kids online nor should they.

    For anyone interested, there's that should help parents and technology.

    Thanks again for the article.

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