The digital world is ever changing and parents frequently have a hard time keeping up with what their children are doing online. Many parents are trying hard to lay down rules and boundaries regarding device use and cybersafety for their children. While these boundaries are wonderful and necessary things when parenting in the digital world, a new study released by the National Cyber Security Alliance reveals that there is a very large “digital disconnect” between parents and their teens regarding teens’ online behavior, their online experiences and how they resolve online issues.
First, an update on how teens are using tech today (as of June 2016 when the study ended). Most teens are accessing digital content on their smartphones (86%). In second place are desktop computers (63%). Teens are spending a lot of time plugged in. The study found that for teens aged 13 to 17, they (62%) spend at least five hours a day plugged in.
Where are they going? Youtube is the place to be, with 91% of teens using Youtube consistently. As for social media apps, Snapchat is the current most popular app with (66%) of teens using this app and a close second is Instagram with 65% of teens using this social media app. Facebook is losing its prominence though 61% of teens surveyed are still using the social media site.
One of the most interesting findings of the survey is that parents think they are creating and enforcing rules around technology usage and cybersafety with their children. However, when their children are asked about these issues (away from mom and dad) there turns out to be a huge disconnect about the rules. For example, 67% of parents say that their child knows that they are to come to them when they experience an online incident that makes them uncomfortable or scared. However, only 32% of teens thought that this was a rule that existed in their family. Teens were much more likely to go to a peer to address the issue than they were their parents.
The study looked at 12 potential tech rules in a family. The difference between the percentage of parents who said a rule exists and their children who agreed was huge. For example, 54% of parents said that their child had to ask permission before downloading a new app or game and only 16% of their teens thought this rule existed. 50% of parents said that their child was required to share their passwords with them while only 16% of their teens reported this rule. Additionally, only 9% of parents said that their household had NO rules about tech while 28% of the teens thought that they had no rules.
These differences show that parents and their teens are not on the same page when it comes to tech use in the household. The good news is that teens still think that their parents are the most important source for online safety and security information.
These differences clearly highlight that though parents think that they may be doing a good job of communicating about tech to their children, the message is getting lost somewhere in translation. Parents need to take an approach to technology that makes it a common part of the household dialogue and conversation with their children. Though you can never make a teen talk to you, demonstrating some tech savvy yourself and talking to your child regularly about their digital world makes the topic commonplace and increases the chances that they will come to you when there is an online issue.
To access the full study, go to file:///C:/Users/Jennifer/Downloads/Keeping_Up_With_Generation_App_Findings_Summary.pdf
Find out how to talk to your teen about cybersex with Dr. Weeks’ new book: The New Age of Sex Education: How to Talk to Your Teen About Cybersex and Pornography in the Digital Age.