Ahh, a timely post. Like many parents, we’ve been in “back to school” mode. I just watched my 15 year old head off to start her sophomore year, my 13 year old begin his 8th grade, and my youngest join the ranks of middle schoolers. They’re growing up fast, and I’m beginning to see that it’s even faster than I thought.
New research has just come out to shed some light on what teens are telling their parents about their internet usage and how teens are really using the internet. Funny, but there’s a big gap here. I didn’t surprise you, did I? Well, this might:
For instance, 49% of parents say their child was 13 or older before they began unsupervised surfing, yet only 14% of teens say they waited that long. 4% of parents say their children check social networking sites more than 10 times a day, but 22% of teens say they exceed that amount. 23% of parents say their children log in more than once a day, but the truth is that 51% of kids do. What’s even worse, 12% of teens with Facebook or MySpace pages admit their parents don’t know about the account.
18% of teenagers say someone has posted a humiliating picture of them on the web or wrote something that humiliated them. Of the 18%, almost 25% of them sought revenge. Then there’s the 19% of teens who say they’ve been “cyberbullied”. Most of our kids are not aware that once they post something online, it’s likely there for life — regardless of how hard they try to remove it.
Here are some interesting numbers:
I insist to my kids that I be one of their “friends” or “followers”. If I find out I’m not, they’re done, plain and simple. To make sure, I monitor their names with google alerts and even track Twitter to make sure I have that covered. Fortunately, I’m their friend.
Here’s two more charts to scare you.
The point here is that our teenagers are likely far more skilled at using the internet than we believe — probably even more skilled than we are. They know what they’re looking for and how to find it. That knowledge, when blended with immaturity, is a recipe for trouble.
So stay close. Spot check their habits. Use alert systems to monitor their postings. And keep up with them as best you can.