Survey: Parents Don't Have Handle on Kids' Web Use

(Image credit: AT&T)

Teens are less confident than their parents that teens are safe from inappropriate online content, especially in the currently online-centric pandemic-altered reality. That lack of confidence in their parents' grasp on the children's Web use is probably because parents don't really know exactly where kids are going online.

That is according to a new AT&T poll that buttresses the need for parental controls like those AT&T offers and promotes.

The survey found that a majority of parents said they have allowed their kids more screen time during COVID-19. But while 80% of parents said they feel confident their teenage children are safe from inappropriate content while surfing the Web, 70% of teens disagreed. 

The survey also found that teens are hiding more of their online activity from their parents, even as they access more inappropriate content.

While 82% of parents of teens said they are at least somewhat confident their kids don't see inappropriate material, 68% of teens said they see content their parents would call inappropriate.

And while 71% of parents said they can see what their teen is doing online, 62% of teens said they can "easily" hide online content from their parents "whenever they want."

And there is plenty of opportunity access content, appropriate and inappropriate. The survey found that 97% of teens have access to a smart device.

The study of U.S. parents and children was conducted by Quadrant strategies July 7-19 among 500 teens, 500 parents of teens and 500 parents of kids under 12.

AT&T is teaming up with D.C. super heroes--Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman--for a spot reminding parent "superheroes"--"juggling jobs and childcare to managing distance learning and monitoring screen time"--to set parental controls and go to if they need help doing so. 

Another of the study's findings was that one in five parents of teens and even more parents of younger kids (more than a third) aren't using parental controls because they are too complicated or they aren't sure what tools to use. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.