If you are a parent who has secretly viewed your child’s Facebook profile, you are hardly alone. A new study shows that nearly 60 percent of American parents are right there with you. Moreover, the company that conducted the study suggests that you’re not wrong in doing so.
Roughly one in four American parents is connected to their children through their own social media profiles, a significantly higher rate than parents elsewhere in the world, according to the study by security software company AVG Technologies that polled 4,400 parents with 14-17-year-old children in 11 countries. American parents are also slightly more likely to be concerned about how schools are preparing their children to conduct themselves in the online world: More than half of Americans surveyed held that concern while fewer than 50 percent of international parents felt the same way.
The statistics show that parents may perceive their children’s online activity through rose-tinted glasses. A mere 20 percent of respondents believe their children access pornography on the Web, while just over one fifth of parents suspect their children of sending explicit text messages – sexting – to their peers. Meanwhile, 80 percent of parents believe that their children have never looked online to meet someone in real life.
“I have to think inappropriate or unsafe teen behavior on the Web is more widespread than parents think, but isn’t that always the way?” AVG security specialist Tony Anscombe wrote in a blog that accompanies the study.
Some 40 percent of parents who took part in the study said they are concerned that their children’s online behavior could impact their job prospects down the line, and Anscombe encouraged parents to track their children’s accounts whether they do so secretly or openly. Anscombe himself admits to doing it, though with his son’s knowledge and only if and when he believes he has “good reason to do so.”