Technology

30 per cent of American parents let children use Facebook unsupervised: Study

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MUMBAI: Do parents in the US trust their children on Facebook?

While a large percentage of adults say they monitor the activity of children in their households on social networking sites such as Facebook, almost one-third (30 per cent) do not, according to findings in the annual study of the impact of the Internet on Americans by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

The Center for the Digital Future director Jeffrey I. Cole said, "It‘s every parent‘s dilemma to know when to trust their children. In the last five years, we have seen many new issues about parenting and technology evolve that previous generations never encountered. How parents cope with their children using social media like Facebook represents only one aspect of these issues."

The study, conducted in association with Bovitz found that although 70 per cent of adults said they monitor the activity of the children in their households while on Facebook or other social networking sites, a smaller group (46 per cent) have password access to the children‘s accounts.

The findings also show that of the adults who do not monitor the social networking activity of the children in their households, 40 per cent cite trust as the explanation; either they trust their children or they believe that monitoring online behavior would show lack of trust. Nine per cent of adults don‘t monitor their household‘s children on Facebook because they don‘t know how to use the social networking site, and seven per cent don‘t because "they don‘t have time to do it."

And in related questions, adults were asked at what age the children in their households should have a mobile phone or Facebook account. They responded the appropriate average is 13 for mobile phones and 15 for a Facebook account.

The responses about parent supervision of children on Facebook are among the more than 180 issues explored in the 2013 Digital Future Project, the longest continuing study of its kind and the first to develop a longitudinal survey of the views and behavior of Internet users and non-users.

Conducted in conjunction with Bovitz, the current study includes new questions that explore negative online attention (bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual attention), and a closer examination of the "Millennial rift" - the vast differences between how Millennials (age 18-34) and non-Millennials use and perceive online sites and services.

The "Millennial Rift": Differences between Millennials and non-Millennials in the spectrum of online behavior

The Digital Future Survey found that Millennials, when compared to non-Millennials, have different views about using the internet and report significant differences in many aspects of their behavior online.

Buying online:

    Millennials are more involved with mobile shopping and comparison shopping than non-Millennials. 68 per cent of Millennials have done a price comparison on their mobile devices while in a store to find if there is a better deal available online, compared to 43 per cent of non-Millennials.

    Twice as many Millennials (23 per cent) as non-Millennials (10 per cent) have purchased products online on their mobile device while in a traditional retail store.

    46 per cent of Millennials compared to 24 per cent of non-Millennials have done an online price comparison in a store to find a better deal at another retail store

Millennials as consumers of online media content - Compared to non-Millennials in the study, Millennials spend:

    three times as much time watching movies online.

    twice as much time listening to online radio.

    four times as much time watching television online.

    more than twice as much time watching paid online television services such as Hulu Plus.

    and almost twice as many watch movies sometimes or often through a fee service such as CinemaNow or Netflix.

    Online video content - More than twice as many Millennials as non-Millennials watch online versions of television shows or music videos.

    Perceptions of social networking sites - Higher percentages of Millennials (70 per cent) compared to non-Millennials (51 per cent) value social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus as important for maintaining their relationships.

    Following and friending companies and brands - Compared to non-Millennials, Millennials follow nine times as many companies and brands on Twitter, and ‘friend‘ more than twice as many companies and brands on social networking sites such as Facebook.

    Changing patterns of online purchasing; views about sales tax: The 2013 report explored a variety of new issues involving online buying, including purchasing on mobile devices and the impact of sales tax on Internet buying:

Sales tax and online purchasing - More than half of Internet buyers (52 per cent) said that if their state starts to collect tax for online purchases, they would buy less online, and nine per cent said they would stop buying online altogether. Only 39 per cent said that sales tax charged for online purchases would not change their purchasing.

Browsing and price-comparing in retail stores with a mobile device - The survey found popular use of mobile devices while shoppers browse in traditional retail stores:

    49 per cent of Internet purchasers who browse in local retail stores said that they have compared prices on a mobile device while in a store to see if there is a better deal available online.

    30 per cent of Internet users overall said that they have used a mobile device while in a store to determine if a better deal was available at another store nearby.

    13 per cent of online purchasers who browse locally said they have purchased a product online with a mobile device while in a store. 70 per cent of that group made the purchase from a competing online retailer, and not from the store‘s website.

Bullying, harassment, unwanted sexual attention:problems that cross all age groups: The Digital Future Project explored the darker side of Internet use by asking new questions about online bullying, harassment, and unwanted online sexual attention.

Online bullying and harassment - A small group of respondents (10.4 per cent) said they had been bullied or harassed online. Almost equal proportions of men (10.3 per cent) and women (10.5 per cent) reported being bullied or harassed online.

Online bullying: a problem across all ages groups - Although bullying and harassment of young Internet users has dominated media coverage of this problem, the survey found that measurable percentages of users in all age ranges report that they have been bullied or harassed. The largest of these groups was users under 18 (18 per cent of them reported being bullied or harassed).

Online bullying and harassment (impact) - Sixty-eight percent of those who have been bullied or harassed online report that the impact was minor. However, more than 30 per cent of those who have been bullied or harassed online said the impact was moderate or worse, and 14 per cent said it was serious. That impact was judged moderate or serious by more than twice as many women (21 per cent) as men (10 per cent).

Unwanted sexual attention online - Compared to the percentage of those who have been bullied or harassed online (10 per cent), more than double (21 per cent) said they have received unwanted sexual attention online.

Unwanted sexual attention online: men vs. women - Both men and women receive unwanted sexual attention online; a higher percentage of women (24 per cent) than men (18 per cent) face the problem of receiving unwanted sexual attention online.

Unwanted sexual attention online: by age - While more than one-third of users under 18 reported receiving unwanted sexual attention online, significant percentages of users in all age categories reported it as well.

Cole added, "Negative online attention - including bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual communication - produces effects ranging from minor nuisances to tragic consequences. While prominent cases in the news focus on how negative online attention affects young users, our study found that these issues affect users of all ages; these issues demand continued exploration."

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