Thursday, October 25, 2007

Parents and teens

It does not happen too often that two research reports on the same subject, each from the other side of the ocean, are available at the same time. But last night a new Pew report about parents and teens became available. A few days earlier a report by IVO in the Netherlands became available on internet and youngsters. The research methods are completely different as well as the sizes of the respondents’ groups. But it is worthwhile to compare.

The US report on the Parents & Teens draws on the 2006 Survey sponsored by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative call-back sample of 935 teens age 12 to 17 years old and their parents living in continental United States telephone households. The Dutch report is based on questionnaires from 4500 youngsters between 11 and 15 years and 3354 parents (1864 mothers and 1490 fathers).

Some conclusions of the Pew report:

The majority of parents are trying to stay involved with teens’ online lives.
Despite the stereotype of the clueless parent, parents of today’s online teens are staying involved in their children’s online lives. Some 65 percent of parents report that after their child has been on the internet, they check to see what websites he or she viewed. In addition, almost three quarters of parents (74 percent) can correctly identify whether or not their online teen has ever created his/her own social networking site profile that others can see at sites such as MySpace or Facebook.

Parents are more concerned about media content than the amount of time their kids spend with media devices.
Parents of teenagers are more vigilant about regulating the media content consumed by their children than the amount of time their children spend in front of a screen. Over two-thirds of parents (68 percent) say they have rules about the kinds of internet sites their teenaged children can or cannot visit, as well as rules about what kinds of information their children can share with people they talk to on the internet. Three-fourths (77 percent) of parents say they have rules about what sort of television shows their children are allowed to watch, and 67 percent of all parents say they have rules about the kinds of video games their children can play.

Content Rules: Yes
Internet sites your child can or cannot visit: 68 percent
What kinds of television shows your child can watch: 77 percent
What kinds of video games your child can play: 67 percent

Time Use Rules: Yes
How much time your child can spend online: 55 percent
How much time your child can spend playing video games: 59 percent
How much time your child can spend watching TV: 58 percent

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project Parents and Teens Survey, October-November 2006. n=935. Margin of error for the overall sample is ±4 percent.

Parents also make rules about the amount of time their teenaged children spend with media, but time with various media forms is not as widely controlled as the media content. There are no significant differences between the number of parents who have rules about the time their kids spend with television, the internet, and video games. Fifty-eight percent of all parents regulate how much time their children can spend watching television, 59 percent of all parents regulate how much time their children can spend playing video games, and 55 percent of all parents have rules about how much time their children can spend using the internet. However, a significantly greater percentage of online parents create rules about the amount of time that their children can spend on the internet than create rules about how much time their children can spend watching television – 69 percent of parents of online teens report regulating how much time their children spend on the web, while only 57 percent of those same parents have rules for how long their children are allowed to watch television.
The majority of parents have media rules for both content and time. However, parents that only have one type of rule are more likely to make rules about media content rather than the time spent with the media device. If the parent does not institute both types of rules, he or she is more likely to have no media rules at all than to create rules around how much time their teen can spend using television, video games, or the internet.

Some conclusions of the Dutch report:

Trends in the internet usage of the youngsters
Using the results of two questionnaires the trends and developments have been charted. Between 2006 and 2007 the internet connections have increased; now 97 percent of the youngsters between 11 and 15 years of age have access to internet at home. The percentage of compulsive internet users had decreased from 4, 3 percent in 2006 to 3 percent in 2007. In comparison to 2006 parents have become stricter with regard to internet usage of their youngsters. This can explain why the number of compulsive users has decreased. Parents put more rules and monitor the internet usage of their children. This can be explained by the media coverage and attention in schools for this subject. Yet the communication between the parents and youngsters has worsened over the year. This pleads for better counselling of the parents.

Compulsive internet usage and education
Also the general and internet specific education by the parents has been researched in relation to the amount of connected hours and compulsive usage by youngsters. The results show that internet specific education - how do parents monitor the internet usage of their children – bears a relationship to the amount of hours use internet weekly and to their compulsive internet usage. The results imply that monitoring internet usage, e.g. interfering when youngsters stay behind the computer a whole day in the weekend, protects them against intensive and compulsive usage. Defining the frequency and length of internet usage seems to help in intensive usage. Talks between the parents and the youngsters help to protect the youngsters against compulsive usage. There are also indications that rules regarding content contribute to the prevention of intensive and compulsive usage of internet by youngsters

Blog Posting Number: 905


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