Should parents be more worried about what their kids are getting up to online?

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myspace-shot.jpgIt’s a cyberjungle out there, y’know. If kids aren’t being turned into howling psychos by playing bootleg copies of Manhunt 2, they’re being groomed by nefarious paedophiles on MySpace. At least, so the tabloids would have you believe.

It’s enough to make you lock up your children in the cellar with an abacus and a few Bunty annuals until they’re 18. Even if parents decide against this sensible regime, shouldn’t they be at least trying to effectively monitor what their kids get up to online? A couple of just-released surveys in the US seemingly show that parents are actually a bit complacent about the issue.

See, survey one, from the US-based Kaiser Family Foundation claims that 73% of parents say they know “a lot” about what their kids are doing online, while of those whose children use these things, 87% check their kids’ IM buddy lists, 82% keep tabs n their social networking profiles, and 76% monitor which internet sites they’ve been visiting.

Yet survey two, commissioned by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, tells a different tale. It asked teenagers how they use the internet, and found that 69% regularly receive personal messages online from strangers and don’t tell a trusted adult about the, while 64% post photos and videos of themselves online, and 58% post information about where they live. 8% of teenagers have posted their mobile numbers online.

So are parents truly clued in on their children’s online habits, or do they just think they are? If the latter, then they should be worried.

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Stuart Dredge