New Study Shows Significant Gaps in Perceptions about Teens’ Online Behavior

  New Study Shows Significant Gaps in Perceptions about Teens’ Online Behavior

  Parents and Teens Differ on Perceived Dangers, Both Take Steps to Protect
                             Privacy and Security

Business Wire

WASHINGTON -- November 14, 2012

Research released today by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) explores
the online generation gap between parents and teens and reveals a number of
disparities in their views about online safety. These gaps in perception
demonstrate that great advancements can and should be made to improve
communication between parents and teens about online behavior. The nationwide
online survey polled 511 teens and 500 parents who access the Internet and was
conducted by Hart Research Associates, an independent research company.

Key survey findings include:

  *Teens think parents are less informed: The vast majority of parents (91
    percent) say they are well informed about what their teens do online and
    on their cell phones. Teens are much less likely to say their parents are
    informed about these activities. Three in five teens say their parents are
    very (21 percent) or somewhat (41 percent) well informed about what they
    do online.
  *A disconnect exists in online safety conversations: Ninety three percent
    of parents say that they have talked to their teens about online safety.
    However, only 61 percent of teens reported having this conversation with
    their parents.
  *Parents underestimate teens’ concerns about potential consequences of
    their online activities: Less than a quarter of parents (21 percent) say
    teens are most concerned about identity theft, when this is a top concern
    for a plurality of teens (44 percent). Fewer than 10 percent of parents
    say teens are worried about online posts creating problems with colleges
    or employers, when in reality 30 percent of teens say these are top
  *Parents are monitoring more than teens think: Seventy percent of parents
    whose teen uses a cell phone have reviewed their teens’ cell phone text
    messages and 79 percent have reviewed their teens’ browser history. Eighty
    four percent of parents whose teen uses a cell phone report that they
    monitor their teens’ cell phones at least somewhat closely. Only 39
    percent of teens who use a cell phone report that their parents monitor
    their cell phones somewhat closely, showing a 45-percentage-point gap
    between parents’ and teens’ perceptions of parental monitoring.

The survey findings also show promising news:

  *Teens take steps to protect their privacy online: Among teens who use
    social networks, 81 percent report having used privacy settings on their
    account, 65 percent have set limits on who they share their posts with and
    50 percent have unfriended someone due to an offensive post.
  *Teens don’t mind monitoring: Fewer than half of teens who report close
    parental monitoring say they are bothered by their parents’ knowledge of
    their online or mobile activities. A majority of teens say a parent
    looking over their shoulder does not present a great nuisance, and more
    than half of teens say they are not that bothered (32 percent) or not at
    all bothered (22 percent) by their parents following or monitoring what
    they do online or on their cell phone.
  *Teens feel safe online and parents agree: Ninety five percent of teens
    feel they are at least somewhat safe online and ninety four percent of
    parents feel their teens are at least somewhat safe online.

“The goal of this survey was to better understand and address the online
generation gap between teens and their parents,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of
FOSI. “While significant gaps exist, it’s heartening to see that the majority
of teens understand the consequences of their actions online and are taking
the right steps to be good digital citizens. By better understanding the
differences in perceptions between parents and teens, we can work together to
improve communication and make the Internet a safer and more productive place
for families.”

The survey was released at FOSI’s annual conference and was made possible with
the support of Google and Microsoft Corp. For more information about the
survey and the annual conference, please visit the Annual Conference 2012 page
on the FOSI website. Follow the conference on Twitter: #fosi2012.

About the Family Online Safety Institute

The Family Online Safety Institute is an international, non-profit
organization that works to make the online world safer for kids and their
families. FOSI convenes leaders in industry, government and non-profit sectors
to collaborate and innovate new solutions and policies in the field of online
safety. Through research, resources, events and special projects, FOSI
promotes a culture of responsibility online and encourages a sense of digital
citizenship for all. FOSI’s members include: AOL, AT&T, BAE Systems Detica, BT
Retail, Comcast, Disney, Entertainment Software Association, Facebook, France
Telecom, Google, GSM Association, Microsoft, Mind Candy, Motion Picture
Association of America, NCTA, Nominum, Optenet, Sprint, Symantec, Time Warner
Cable, Telefónica, The Cyber Guardian, The Wireless Foundation, Verizon and
Yahoo!. For more information, visit

About Hart Research Associates

Founded in 1971, Hart Research Associates is one of the leading survey
research firms in the United States and has been at the cutting edge of change
in the field of public opinion for more than three decades. In that time, Hart
Research Associates has conducted well over 5,000 public opinion surveys and
has administered and analyzed interviews among more than three million
individuals. Hart Research Associates has also undertaken more than 5,000
focus group sessions. To learn more, please visit the Hart Research Associates


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