Few Parents Talk to Kids About Online Behavior

Few Parents Talk to Kids About Online BehaviorFew Parents Talk to Kids About Online Behavior

Despite cyber bullying covered in the media, only 36% of parents frequently talk to their kids about online behavior towards others, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The study, which surveyed parents of teenagers aged 13 to 17 years, found that parents are still more likely to discuss their children’s behavior in real life than online. To be fair, 94% of parents surveyed said that they talk with their teens about what they should share online and 92% of parents say they do discuss to some degree how to properly interact with others online.

“Just like we see parents having discussions with their kids about how to behave in certain in-person situations, we are also seeing them place a real emphasis on behavior in digital spaces and consuming appropriate content within those digital spaces,” Aaron Smith, associate director of Internet research at Pew, told Forbes in an interview.

When this broader statistic is broken down, however, the survey results are a bit troubling. In the targeted study of 1,060 participants, 22% of parents reported that they “rarely” or “never” talk to their teens about acceptable online behavior towards others. This was twice the percentage of parents who rarely or never have discussions with their children about what constitutes acceptable behavior in school, at home or in social life. Parents with older teens (15 to 17 years) are less likely to have these conversations than parents of younger teens (13 to 14 years)—32% and 43%, respectively.

Additionally, the survey found that 41% of mothers frequently talk with their teens about how to treat others online, compared to 30% of fathers. Higher income parents also tend to talk with their kids less about this topic, according to the survey results.

To put the importance of these statistics in perspective, according to the advocacy group—nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online with one-in-four reporting that they have been bullied online more than once. Additionally, 68% of teens view it as a serious problem, which makes sense considering that a whopping 81% of young people think that it is easier to get away with cyber bullying than bullying in person.