Study Shows Parents Out of Loop on Social Networking

    August 10, 2009
    Chris Crum

Interesting survey results come from Common Sense Media, which suggest that social networking is changing the very nature of childhood. The organization, who presents findings of a poll from the Benenson Strategy Group, says that kids are increasingly connecting with friends, classmates, and people with similar interests through social networks, while their parents are out of the loop.

"In today’s digital environment, parents have less time to supervise their kids’ behavior," says James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. "Communication and socialization in our kids’ world is increasingly moving from face-to-face to face-to-cyberspace, and parents vastly underestimate the amount of time that kids spend on their networks. That makes it more challenging for parents to actually parent in the crucial areas of social interaction and development, and, in a digital world, parents need to play a more important role than ever in ensuring that our kids get the best of these technologies and are using them safely."

You may recall Common Sense Media from this video on Google’s Tips for Online Safety page:

Here are some key findings from the poll:

– 22% of teens check social networking sites more than 10 times a day, while only 4% of parents believe kids are checking that much

– 51% of teens check social networking sites more than once a day, while only 23% of parents say their kids check more than once a day

– 28% have shared personal information that they normally wouldn’t have shared in public

– 25% have shared a profile with a false identity

– 39% have posted something they regretted

– 26% have pretended to be someone else online

– 54% have joined an online community or Facebook/MySpace group in support of a cause

– 4% have volunteered for a campaign, nonprofit, or charity

Common Sense Media says that conversations that start in the hallway move online to the social networks. "Teens are using social networks to share information, make connections, and develop their identities in new, exciting ways," says the organization. "But when teens communicate either anonymously or through a disguised identity, the doors are left wide open for them to not be held accountable. That kind of communication also leads to a disconnect between actions and their consequences, which is how irresponsible behaviors like cyberbullying become a reality."

Last month, the PointSmart ClickSafe Task Force (of whom Google is a part) released guidelines for best practices for online safety and literacy for keeping kids safe online. Google has tips here, and the task force’s site is here.