The purpose of this study was to investigate if parental involvement in digital activities relates to middle school students’ knowledge of appropriate use of the Internet and social networking sites. Parental involvement, measured using a three-item dimension on the 40 item instrument, asked students to report on their knowledge of their parent’s involvement with their internet activity. The aggregate score on this dimension was used to measure the relationship among several dimensions. Furthermore, demographic items, such as grade level, having an older sibling, and getting in trouble at school, were also investigated.
Over 71% of adults in the United States use the Internet (Horigan, 2007). Research suggests that adolescence (namely teens), are heavier users than adults (Subrahmanyam, Kraut, Greenfield, & Gross, 2001). Actually, in the United States, it is estimated that 21 million teens use the Internet. This represents 87% of this age group (Lenhart, 2005). Student have access to the Internet readily available, be it school, home, or library. This ease of access may increase the potential for students to become victims of Internet sexual predators or other students who engage in inappropriate cyberbullying behaviors. Rainie (2008) found that 32% of teens reported being contacted on-line by a stranger. Furthermore, 23% (of the 32%) stated that the contact made them feel scared or uncomfortable.
There is a myriad of evidence to support the need for parental involvement in a child’s internet activities, from filtering access to monitoring activity, supervision is paramount (Lenhardt, 2005; Raine, 2008; Shariff 2008). Aside from the fact that predators are seeking young predators, teens are also reporting inappropriate behaviors. In fact, Lenhardt found that 81% of parents and 79% of teens agreed that “teens are not careful enough when sharing personal information on-line” (pii). Furthermore, when asked if “teens do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about” (pii), 65% of the parents and 64% of the teens agreed with the statement. The knowledge of the issue is evident from both parties, so now what do we do with it?
This line of research aims to understand the status of behaviors and views of middle school students and the influence parents have on these behaviors. It is hoped that the results may assist schools in developing educational programs and safeguards to protect students.
Kite, S., Gable, R., & Fileppelli, L. (2009, April). Parental involvement in students’ safe use of the internet. Paper presented at 2009 AERA Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA.
Kite, Stacey L.; Gable, Robert K.; and Filippelli, Lawrence P., "Parental Involvement in Students’ Safe Use of the Internet" (2009). Cyberbullying. 4.