Who Needs Parental Controls? A Survey Of Awareness, Attitudes, And Use Of Online Parental Controls

January 13, 2012

This survey released by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) shows that most parents (87 percent) are aware of parental controls and more than half of parents (53 percent) say they have used parental controls for their children’s Internet use. The nationwide telephone survey polled 702 parents of children ages 8-17 who access the Internet and was conducted by Hart Research Associates, an independent research company.

Key survey findings include:

  • Parents are aware: Eighty seven percent of parents report awareness of at least one of the five types of parental controls tested in the survey: a tool or program offered by a software company, Internet service provider, a wireless company, a search engine, or video game. Fifty three percent of parents report using some type of parental control for Internet use. The use of parental controls is highest among parents with post-graduate education, parents who use social media and those under the age of 40.
     
  • Parents are concerned: Although not all use parental controls, most parents express concern about various online activities. The top concern is that children are receiving sexually explicit information or pictures (70 percent).
     
  • Parents are getting involved: Among parents who have not used parental controls, the most common reason given for not using them (60 percent) is that parents believe they are not necessary because they have their own rules and limits in place regarding Internet use. However, nearly all parents (93 percent) say they have set rules or limits to monitor their children’s online usage. These rules include requiring children to only use the computer in a certain area of the house (79 percent), limiting the amount of time a child can spend online (75 percent), setting rules for the times of day a child can be online (74 percent), and establishing time limits for use of a child’s cell phone (59 percent).
     
  • Parents are looking to the future: Recognizing that computers are no longer the only way children access the Internet, 32 percent of parents whose children access the Internet using a smartphone feel very knowledgeable about protecting children’s safety and privacy on smartphones, and another 23 percent feel fairly knowledgeable. Meanwhile, 35 percent of parents whose children access the Internet on a gaming console feel very knowledgeable about protecting children’s safety and privacy on gaming consoles, and another 27 percent feel fairly knowledgeable.

“Access to the Internet and all it offers is crucial for preparing today’s youth for the 21st century,” said Kim Sanchez, Chairman of the FOSI Board of Directors and Director of Privacy and Online Safety  at Microsoft Corporation.  “The survey results are encouraging because parents believe they have the tools necessary for their children to safely navigate the digital world.”

“We’re encouraged to see how many parents already have rules and tools in place to keep their kids safe online,” said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI. “Of course, more needs to be done and we will continue to work with government, industry and non-profit groups to spread the word and encourage safe and responsible online use.”   


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