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Parents have little idea what teens do online, says study

india Updated: Jun 28, 2012 15:44 IST

A new US survey of more than 1,000 teenagers (13-17) and 1,000 parents of teenagers by online security company Mcafee has highlighted the discrepancies between what parents think about their teenagers' use of the internet, what is really going on, and what each group is doing to outsmart the other.

The survey found that while three quarters of parents said they had had a conversation about online safety with their teenagers, only around half of teenagers indicated that these conversations had an impact on them.

When it comes to trying to control their teenagers' behavior online, 49.1 percent of parents had installed parental controls, 44.3 percent knew their teenagers' passwords, 27 percent had actually taken their teen's devices, 10.3 percent reported using location tracking to monitor their teens and 3.5 percent had even consulted a psychologist for help with their teens' online behavior.

However, despite these attempts by parents, the survey found that teenagers are seemingly managing to outwit their parents.

The survey found that 61 percent of teenagers felt confident they knew how to hide their online activity, and 71 percent had actually done so. Furthermore, 53.3 percent of teens clear their browser history, 19.9 percent change their social networking settings to block their parents, 19.5 percent "utilize private browsing," 18.9 percent "hide or delete" inappropriate videos, and, despite parents' best attempts, 12.8 percent of teenagers have disabled parental controls.

Additionally, the survey found that 8.7 percent of teenagers have duplicated social media profiles that their parents do not know about, suggesting that even if it appears to parents that they are monitoring their teenagers' social networking activities, it may not be the case.

Despite these findings, a US survey of over 1,000 teenagers (13-17) by Common Sense Media released on June 26 found that 52 percent of teens thought social media "helped their friendships," while 43 percent indicated that they "wished they could get away from social media sometimes."