Dad of Divas' Reviews: Today’s Teens Aren’t the Only Ones Sneaking Around

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today’s Teens Aren’t the Only Ones Sneaking Around

For generations, parents have been suspicious of teens’ social activities – and have employed any number of tactics to uncover the truth. Today’s parents are no exception; they simply have more channels to monitor. The fifth Digital Diaries installment conducted by AVG Technologies, a leading provider of Internet and mobile security, revealed that 60 percent of American parents surveyed admit to accessing teens’ Facebook accounts without theirknowledge, with moms most likely to be the guilty party.

AVG’s global, multi-year, Digital Diaries research project has aimed to determine how the Internet is
impacting children as they play, learn, and grow up in today’s digital world. Entitled “Digital Coming
of Age,” the latest phase of the study surveyed 4,400 parents with 14-17 year olds in 11 countries.
To begin, findings show that 75 percent of American parents stay connected to their children on
social networks, which is significantly more than parents in other countries. Across the globe, it’s less
common for parents to be “friends” with their teens on Facebook to be able to monitor the activity
teens permit them to see through their privacy settings. In fact, this number is as low as 10 percent
in Japan and 33 percent in France.

"I'm convinced that parents need to communicate more with their teens about the digital coming of
age. Even though most teens have intuitive online abilities, parents need to be setting limits, rules,
and staying aware of what's going on,” said Rona Renner, RN, temperament specialist/parent
educator and founder of Childhood Matters. "Safely navigating new technologies in the digital age is
quickly becoming an important task in adolescent development. Successfully accomplishing this
takes families working together to build a sense of safety, trust, and respect. AVG's Digital Diaries
research and products help parents of teens as they find the right balance between hands on and
hands off parenting."

Digital Coming of Age further reveals American parents are keeping tabs on their teens’ online
activity. A majority of moms and dads actually give their children credit for doing the right thing and
have minimal concerns about illegal, inappropriate and career-damaging behaviors, however they
continue to monitor their teens in today’s connected age. The study revealed:

  • Twenty percent suspect their children are accessing pornography or illegal music downloads; and 5 percent suspect their children of gambling.
  • Twenty percent of American parents also suspect their teens of “sexting” via their mobile phones.
  • Almost half of parents in the U.S. believe their teens conduct relationships with friends and family via their mobile phones, yet only 9 percent think these relationships are sexual. 
  • An overwhelming 80 percent of parents believe their teens have never met someone in person that they first met online.

“Is it spying or is it good parenting when parents closely monitor teens’ online activity?” asks Tony
Anscombe, senior evangelist for AVG Technologies. “Parenting teens that have grown up alongside
the Internet and with mobile phones in hand requires an entirely new set of rules and tactics. Our
research reveals that while parents trust their teens to do the right thing, such as avoiding
pornography on the Internet and “sexting,” they are still concerned about their children’s safety and
how teens’ online behavior may affect their future careers.”

Forty percent of American parents worry the content their children post to Facebook and other
social networks will affect their children’s job prospects down the road. Adding to this stress, less
than 50 percent of American parents feel their child’s school is doing a good job preparing their
students for the online world. They aren’t alone in their concerns. Digital Coming of Age found that
nearly half of all parents around the globe felt that schools were not effective in teaching their teens
to responsibly use the Internet.

"In a very short period of time we have seen amazing changes in the ways we communicate and
gather information because of digital technologies. Cell phones, video games and the Internet blur
boundaries and change rules. This of course affects families and especially families with teens
between the ages of 14-17 who are coming of age with these digital tools,” said Jason Brand,
licensed clinical social worker who focuses on the impact of technology on the social and emotional
development of kids. “It's important for parents with older teens to have access to research and
practical advice to help them adequately address their concerns. With good information about this
rapidly changing area in teens’ lives; parents can know what to expect, understand what's normal
and identify possible red flags."

“Our latest research will hopefully facilitate conversations with parents, educators and others
around the most effective strategies to monitor youth activity and teach them how to express
themselves safely and thoughtfully online,” Anscombe continued. “We’re all learning as we go. We
can’t parent today like we were raised, because the Internet simply wasn’t available or as accessible
when we were young.”

Other key findings from Digital Coming of Age include:

  • UK parents are most likely to suspect teens of ‘sexting’ – nearly 25 percent of UK parents suspect their kids of sexting, compared with US (21%), Australia (22%), Spain (21%), Canada (20%), New Zealand (17%), Japan (15%), Italy (11%), France (10%), Czech Republic (13%) and Germany (9%).
  • Spanish parents are (45%) most suspicious their teens are illegally downloading music – compared with parents in the US (19%), Czech Republic (35%), France (30%), UK (28%),Australia and New Zealand (27%). 
  • Just under half of parents surveyed are concerned their teens mobile photos are geotagged.
  • Twenty percent of UK and US parents suspect their teens of accessing pornography on their PC – in comparison to over a quarter of Spanish parents.
  • Twenty percent of UK and US parents have seen explicit or abusive messages on their children’s social networks – compared with over 25 percent of Australian and New Zealand parents.

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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