Various factors affecting the level of concern among parents for their child’s online safety


Enough evidence exists to support the fact that the Internet can be dangerous for kids sometimes which is why parents need to take the necessary measures to ensure their child is kept safe. Threats range from predators, cyber bullying and inappropriate content online which are only some dangers which children need to be protected from. However, parents aren’t always on the same page with respect to the risk associated with such issues. Northwestern University along with Microsoft Research had a look at data from an online survey of more than 1000 parents which was conducted in 2011 in the United States. This was done to determine how concerned were the parents with respect to their child and threats found on the internet. The study took into consideration parents from various demographic and socioeconomic groups and the results of it brought to light some interesting information.

The survey considered 5 potential threats found on the internet which was stranger danger, pornography, and such content, violent content, bullying of children and the child being a bully. Parents were then asked how concerned they were regarding these dangers and about how safe the internet was for children. A majority of them agreed that the biggest concern for them was kids running into strangers on the internet which was followed by pornography and such content. The third biggest concern was violent content while the child gets bullied and being the bully ranked in fourth and fifth respectively. According to these results, it can be stated that for parents, inappropriate content is more of a threat than is cyber bullying.

Demographic factors were also taken into consideration in this study which suggested that Hispanic and Asian parents were found to be more worried about their kid being exposed to the threats mentioned above. White parents were found to be the least concerned whereas black parents in comparison were more concerned about safety issues with respect to their child.

Socioeconomic status too had a role to play with how concerned parents were. Those belonging to a higher income range were less worried about their kid being exposed to such threats and parents who were educated and had a degree didn’t seem as concerned as those parents not being educated to the same extent with respect to meeting strangers online.

The age of the child and gender also had a role to play. Parents of younger kids and girls were more concerned than parents having boys and older kids. The religious beliefs and gender of the parent didn’t have much of an impact on how concerned they were, however, those having moderate or more conservative beliefs did find their childhood exposure to pornography a more important issue than cyber bullying. In contrast, those parents who were more liberal considered cyber bullying to be more of an issue than was pornography.

The study thus suggests that every parent has different concerns regarding their child’s safety online. Policies introduced to keep children safe on the internet however due to this reason may not be as effective as they do not take into consideration the various differences which exist between parents.

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