Influence of Parental Attitudes Towards Internet Use on the Employment of Online Safety Measures at Home

Hellenic Association for the Study of Internet Addiction Disorder, Larissa, Greece.
Studies in health technology and informatics 09/2012; 181:64-70. DOI: 10.3233/978-1-61499-121-2-64
Source: PubMed


In this paper we present the results of a cross-sectional study of the entire adolescent student population aged 12-18 of the island of Kos and their parents, on Internet safety-related practices and attitudes towards the Internet. Total sample was 2017 students and 1214 parent responders. Research material included extended demographics and an Internet security questionnaire, the Internet Attitudes Scale (IAS) for parents and the Adolescent Computer Addiction Test (ACAT) for children and both parents. Both parents thus provided their views on their children's computer use and an estimate for their degree of computer addiction which was tested against their child's self-report. Results indicated that fathers and mothers who had negative views of the Internet, tended to encourage less their children to engage in online activities and worried more for the possibility that their child is addicted to computer use; their worries weren't correlated with their children's results. Parental views on the Internet had no effect on the level of security precautions they employed at home. Those parents who reported a low level of security knowledge and were unsure as to what their children were doing online, tended to consider their children more likely to be addicted to computer use; those views were confirmed by their children' self-reported results.

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    ABSTRACT: The widespread adoption of social media and other networked technologies by youth has prompted concerns about the safety issues they face when they go online, including the potential of being hurt by a stranger, being exposed to pornographic or violent content, and bullying or being bullied. These concerns often manifest as fears and anxieties in parents and can lead to pervasive moral panics. Eager to shield children from potential risks, parents—and lawmakers—often respond to online safety concerns by enacting restrictions with little consideration for the discrepancy between parental concern and actual harm. As this article shows, parental fears are not uniform across different population groups. Our findings demonstrate that, while concern may be correlated with experiencing online safety risks, parental concerns with respect to online safety issues also vary significantly by background—notably race and ethnicity, income, metropolitan status, and political ideology. As policies develop to empower parents, more consideration must be given to how differences in parental fears shape attitudes, practices, and norms.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Policy and Internet