Parents Monitoring Teenagers Online, and Mostly, Getting It Right

Image: KJ Dell’Antonia

Excerpt from this article:

“Children who felt like their parents were monitoring their activity online were noticeably less distressed by online conflict,” Dr. Underwood said. Particularly early in our children’s online lives, we should also monitor, but openly. When we help our children learn to socialize in this domain, we help them moderate their own behavior, and also help them put the world of the Internet into context as just one piece of a much greater whole.

Relatively few parents rely on technology to monitor technology. Just 39 percent of parents report using parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teenager’s online activities, while only 16 percent use parental controls to restrict their teenager’s use of his or her cellphone. That triumph of talk over tech may be in part because technology’s ability to help parents limit and monitor is still itself limited.

No matter how good the tools to monitor children and teenagers online get, talk will always remain more powerful. The goal, after all, isn’t to control our children and prevent their doing anything foolish or dangerous on the Internet, or even spending too much time there — but to raise adults who can control themselves.