The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Health & Family

June 14, 2012

Outsmarted: Parents who want to monitor kids' Internet use must learn smartphones

JOPLIN, Mo. — Guy Voltz has a stark message for parents who are reluctant to learn all the capabilities of a smartphone: They better learn them if they want to monitor their kids’ Internet usage.

“What we hear more of, all the time, is that parents never realized that a smartphone can get full Internet,” Voltz said. “The next thing they want to know is if there is software to block it. Not really. There’s nothing out there to truly stop kids from getting on.”

A recent study, conducted by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reported that parents are pretty good at keeping watch over a child’s Internet habits while on the computer.

But smartphone usage is a different story. Children 10 to 13 years old interviewed in the survey said that their parents haven’t warned them about Internet dangers on mobile devices.

According to the survey, reported on by consumeraffairs.com:

  • More than 95 percent of children use their mobile devices to access the Internet, but parents typically provide safety parameters only for the home computer. One in five parents (17 percent) admitted to using parental controls for the children’s mobile devices.
  • Although mobile devices have fewer parental controls to activate than computers, many parents say they’re unable to use them because they’re not sure how to work it.
  • 82 percent of parents said they’re very knowledgeable of what their kids did online, but a lot children admitted to engaging in inappropriate behavior that their parents had no idea about.
  • 44 percent of the children surveyed said they’ve viewed something that their parents wouldn’t approve of, and 34 percent said they lied to their parents about what they did online.
  • 42 percent of children said they received a personal online message from someone they didn’t know, and only 22 percent of parents said they were aware of this.
  • Around 17 percent of children surveyed said they’ve gotten an email or online message with pictures or words that made them feel uncomfortable (7 percent of parents said they were aware of this), and 12 percent said they’ve been a victim of online bullying (6 percent said they didn’t know this happened).

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