Issuu on Google+

Parenting in Cyberspace: What Parents Know and What They Don’t Daniel H Erickson, Noel A. Card & Sheri A. Bauman THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

Background

3

2.5

2

1.5

1

0

Send/Receive Texts

Play Games on Internet

Look up Information on Internet

Use Social Networking Sites (like Facebook)

Parent

3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5

1

0.5

0

Parents limit amount of time child spends on computer

Parents check the history Parents put filters or Parents talk with children of websites child visits blocks on home computer about appropriate behavior using technology

Female Student

Parent of Male Student

Parent of Female Student

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

Send/Receive Text Messages

8th Grade

3rd Grade

4th Grade

5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

Child

Parent

4th Grade

8th Grade

Visit Social Networking Sites (like Facebook)

These results suggest that parents largely underestimate their child’s activities in cyberspace, and largely overestimate their own regulative efforts. Technological advances will continue to flourish, and society’s civilization of cyberspace will only become more established. Simply forbidding or restricting technology use will not be the effective parenting. Though uncharted territory, parents are accountable to step up to their responsibilities of parenting in cyberspace. A more excellent way of parenting in the cyber-age includes open communication about online behaviors and more comprehensive monitoring of when and how children are using technology. In addition, taking responsibility to not only install filters or blocks on the Internet, but also taking the time to model and teach good citizenry and appropriate online behavior to the rising generation of cyber-citizens. By bridging the digital gap and establishing more effective parenting techniques, children can benefit from safely using technology.

Parent Child

3rd Grade

Child

0

Parent

1 0.5

Child

Figure 2

2

1.5

Conclusions and Implications

Shop Online

Child use of social networking sites and sending or receiving text messages increased by grade. Though parents’ perceptions of child’s sending or receiving text messages and visiting social networking sites show a similar trend, parents consistently perceived lower frequencies of use than their children reported (as seen in Figure 2). Of note is that many social networking sites, such as Facebook, have a minimum age requirement of 13, yet an average of 33% of students younger than 7th grade self-reported having a Facebook profile. Child Use of Two Types of Technology by Grade (Child Report vs. Parent Report) 4 Frequency – 0(Never) to 4 (Daily)

3

2.5

Male Student

Child

Methods

3.5

0.5

Send/Receive Emails

In addition to entertainment purposes, students find many educational and social benefits to using technology. As family relationships become more infused with technology, dynamics are likely to change. Though parents have generally positive views on technology (Wong, 2011), children’s technology use and behavior still needs to be regulated. Indeed, parents find themselves faced with the responsibility to ensure their children have access to educational resources while also protecting them from risks and distractions (Davies, 2011). Yet, attempts to restrict child access to technology seems to have little effect on actual usage (Lee & Chae, 2007). The purpose of this study is to evidence that parents are largely unaware of their children’s behavior in cyberspace, while echoing researchers sentiments of the need for more valiant attempts at effective monitoring and regulation of technology.

Data were collected from 1,372 students grades 3-8 in Southern Arizona school districts. The students primarily identified as either Hispanic (42%) or Caucasian (26%). Nearly half (668) of parents also participated in this study. Both parents and students were asked to complete a survey addressing issues such as general technology use, perceptions of parent technology use (for children) and perceptions of child technology use (for parents). Reported results come from paired-samples t-test analyses conducted to compare self-reports with perceptions of either the child (for parents) or the parent (for children) use of technology.

4

3.5

Parental Technology Supervision (Child Report vs. Parent Report)

Figure 3

As seen in Figure 1, children self-reported higher frequencies of technological activities than their parents perceived for all but “looking up information online”. Child Use of Technology (Child Report vs. Parent Report)

Frequency – 0(Never) to 4 (Daily)

As technology continues to permeate society, individuals and families will need to adapt accordingly. Regardless of a parent’s esteem for or distrust of the cyber-world, parents in our current society face the challenge of parenting in cyberspace. From a sample of 668 parents and students, students’ self-reported behavior technology usage was significantly greater than their parents perceived. Parents also reported more frequent online monitoring than their children reported. These results suggest that parents are either largely unaware of or greatly underestimate their children’s use of technology. Though parents being largely unaware of children’s social is not a new phenomenon, further efforts are needed to guide and protect children in cyberspace and establish responsible cybercitizens.

Figure 1

Results

Frequency – 0(Never) to 4(Daily)

Abstract

Further, parents reported higher frequency of parental regulation than their children reported (as seen in Figure 3). Though difficult to ascertain actual frequency from self-report items, the difference in perceptions of children and parents with regards to parenting behaviors regarding technology is of note.

Acknowledgements The authors thank the National Science Foundation for supporting this research (NSF 1019196). The authors acknowledge funding from the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families. A PDF version of this academic poster is available at: http://mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu/posters


Parenting%20in%20cyberspance%20what%20parents%20know%20and%20what%20they%20don%27terickson 0