The Digital Divide Between Parents and T(w)eens

Robert Siciliano asks parents, “Do you know what your kids are hiding?”

Many of you as parents may think, “not much” when asked this question. But in reality, it’s probably a lot more than you think. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that McAfee’s 2013 study, Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids, which examines the online habits and interests of tweens, teens, and young adults, finds there is a significant disconnect between what they do online and what their parents believe they do.

The phrase “liar liar, pants on fire” comes to mind when I hear this topic and the phrase applies to both parents and kids. Parents are lying to themselves if they think they know what their kids are doing online, since 80% said they would not know how to find out what their kids are doing online and 62% do not think that their kids can get into deep trouble online. As for our kids, let’s face it – kids sometimes lie. The study found that 69% of kids say that they know how to hide what they do online from their parents and disturbingly 44% of them cleared their browser history or used private browsing sessions to hide their activity from their parents.

While youth understand the Internet is dangerous, they still engage in risky (and sometimes illegal) behavior. Not only are they hiding this activity from their parents in a variety of ways, but almost half (46%) admit that they would change their behavior if they knew their parents were paying attention.

  • 86% of youth believe that social sites are safe and are aware that sharing personal details online carry risk, yet kids admit to posting personal information such as their email addresses (50%) and phone numbers (32%).
  • 48% have viewed content they know their parents would disapprove of.
  • 29% of teens and college-aged youth have accessed pirated music or movies online.

The Digital Divide Between Parents and T(w)eens

Parents: this is not an issue on which we can afford to stick our heads in the sand. What are you using to guard the hearts of your family in the digital age? I’d suggest Covenant Eyes as a great place to start.

About Jason Hardin

Jason lives in southern Indiana with his wife Shelly and their three daughters. He works with the Charlestown Road church of Christ. Jason has written three books and a variety of workbooks. He's a fan of photography, baseball, mountains, wildlife, BBQ, banana pudding, and coffee. You can contact him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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