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Parental policies for monitoring Internet use

Publish date: 30 May 2012
Issue Number: 1436
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw & Management
Category: General

Parent engagement, not harsh policing may be the best policy for Internet use, according to a recent study of the habits and techniques of thousands of teens and their families in more than two dozen countries.

Christian Science Monitor reports that based on surveys of 25 142 families of 9-to-16-year-olds in 25 countries, researchers came to the conclusion that parents' active engagement with their children's Internet activities works better than restricting them. They found that, while both imposing restrictions (e.g., installing a filter, banning certain Web sites, or restricting activities like photo-sharing or texting) and actively engaging reduced 'risks of harm,' the more restrictive approach also reduced children's opportunities online. 'For parents, talking to their child about the Internet, encouraging them to explore alone but being nearby in case they are needed and talking to them about what they do online are all ways in which they can reduce online risks without reducing their child's opportunities,' said EU Kids Online research director Sonia Livingstone in a press release. Livingstone also said that the surveys found a generally 'positive picture in which children welcome parental interest and activities, and parents express confidence in their children's abilities.' Report co-author Andrea Duerager said that, 'in Turkey and Austria, for example, parents favour a restrictive approach while in Nordic countries they do more active mediation'. Full Christian Science Monitor report

Parents who constantly fiddle with mobile phones or iPads in front of their children are guilty of 'benign neglect' and risk driving them to a lifelong dependency on screens, a leading psychologist has warned. A generation of young people is growing up with a virtual addiction to computers, televisions and smartphones with striking similarities to alcoholism, according to Dr Aric Sigman. By the time they turn seven, children born today will have spent the equivalent of an entire year of their lives watching some form of small screen, he said. The Sunday Observer reports that he told the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference in Glasgow that parents need to 'regain control' of their households. He is quoted in the report as saying: 'Passive parenting' in the face of the new media environment is a form of benign neglect and not in the best interests of children. Parents must regain control of their own households.' Full Sunday Observer report