41 Percent of Teens Say their Parents have “No Clue” what They’re Doing Online

Posted February 13, 2008 by

Photo of elisabeth

Do you know how much time your teen-ager spends online? Or how many “friends” they’ve made through social networking sites? The Norton Global Online Living Report came out today, and according to the study, 41 percent of teens said their moms and dads “had no clue” what their kids were doing online.

Perhaps most shocking—42 percent of U.S. teens have received requests for personal information from people they’ve met online. 16 percent have been approached by strangers online, (even though when adults were asked, they guessed that only 6 percent of children had been contacted by strangers.) Finally, only about a third of parents set parental controls over computer time and/or monitor their kids’ online behavior. And we wonder why problems have started to crop up…

Now it’s your turn. Do you have parental controls in place? Have you talked to your kids about Internet safety? Sound off below.

(And be sure to check out the article “What Your Kids are Really Doing Online” in EmpoweringParents.com with tips on how to talk to your kids about the online world–and how to keep your child safe.)


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

Popular on Empowering Parents

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. gboise Report

    I bought my special needs son a Zune HD not knowing it had internet access. We live in an apartment complex and several people have unsecured routers. My son has looked up sex on it and it showed naked women. I was very upset. After several calls to Zune and them not having any parental controls for the Zune I asked them to take it back and I will take one without internet access like my son has had for 3 years. They will not. I found parental controls and a security code on the PSP. I spent mega bucks and now I am stuck with a 32 GB HD Zune and my son can not use it.
    Parental controls should be on any childs device or at least a security code that the parents only know.

  2. cherstinane Report

    I have a serious problem that I believe most other parents have – but may not have discovered yet.

    Child Porn on the cell phone.

    With the advent of MMS on cell phones, kids now regularly send naked pictures of themselves to one another. This is outright child porn. If they are caught, they can be arrested and prosecuted as a sex offender and branded for life.

    I know of numerous teenagers who engage in this and don’t find any harm whatsoever in it. If they are not sending pictures, they are talking nasty to each other and many other harmful things.

    Anyone have this issue and would like to share their solutions?

  3. A Teenagers Opinion Report

    I am 17, and my house is free of any sort of restrictions on what websites we can access, or what we can play, etc.
    I think that overprotective parents like yourselves are just creating more problems for teenagers. Or have you not noticed: teenagers like to rebel against rules! Now i can understand the need if you already know that your child is doing something that will harm him/herself or others. But just to keep them safe? Trust your child!!! If your parenting has been good, then i’m sure they will be responsible enough to know better than telling complete strangers their information.
    And as for your daughter, Natalie: she is a teenager, and curious. There is nothing wrong with exploring a bit. At least she is drawing it, and not actually out there experiencing it.

    Now, none of my closer friends have restrictions on their internet usage. Their parents trust their children. Honestly, they’re more afraid of what goes on outside the house instead of the dangers of internet use.
    And anyway, i’m fairly sure each of your children are fairly smart. If they want to use the internet and are restricted at home, they will find a way around it.

    And at least have the decency to tell your child that you’re monitoring their internet use! We DO care about privacy. Instead of being sneaky about it, just try having an open and honest relationship with your children. If you’re completely truthful, then i’m sure they will too. I know i appreciate my dad’s truthfulness. Honestly, he is one of my best friends, and i know if he were to try to control what i do or see, it would ruin our precious relationship, no matter how well i know he was just doing it because he cares about me.

    Really. You raised your kids. You installed their values and gave them information on real life. Now you need to step back and trust they are smart enough to use the information.
    How about instead of monitoring them, just sit down and have a talk about internet safety?
    Its like the talk about not to use drugs and to practice safe sex (my mom thinks i shouldnt have sex till i’m 21! dont have insane expectations. know your child will do things you dont necessarily like, and inform them on the dangers instead of forbidding them to do it: as i said, teenagers tend to do exactly the thing you told them not to, just to show they can), except parents forget to talk about the dangers of the internet.

  4. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    Dear “Help”: I have to agree with Natalie here. In my opinion, it might be good to tell your daughter that you are going to monitor her online activities and that it is for her own protection. The experts I talked to for the EP article on teenagers online (click http://empoweringparents.com/What-Teens-are-Really-Doing-Online.php
    to read it)both said it really depends on your child, as well. Does your daughter engage in risky behavior elsewhere in her life? Then you have good reason to monitor her online life.

  5. Natalie Report

    I don’t know what kind of ride I have been on.
    I think you need an advanced degree to keep up with what our children are doing with all the coding they are using to keep what they are doing from their parents.

    My 15 year old daughter started out on GAIA web-site and was interested in drawing Anime. This turned into “cos-play” a role playing group, which turned into cos-play conventions, which turned into Anime pornography complete with Japanese words for homosexual activities etc.

    I am disgusted and I really do not know what I can do except have the technology removed from my home…period.

    To respond to the parent who is monitoring your child’s internet usage, here is my opinion; everyone else is monitoring her usage, why not be open about it an say, “deal with it kid, this is what I must do to keep you protected.”

    We are too polite and want to give our children a sense of respecting their privacy, those days are over. No one’s privacy is respected any more.

  6. Help Report

    I’ve had e-blaster in stealth mode on my daughter’s computer for over a year. She is unaware that I am monitoring her and this has created some difficulties for me. I did not want her to know that I am monitoring her because if she knew then she wouldn’t use her computer to plan her weekends or talk to her friends about things that she doesn’t want me to know about. I am, however, faced with the dilemma of knowing things but being unable to confront her because she will then know that I am monitoring her. Any recommendations for how to handle this situation?

  7. Tammy Burkman Report

    I have a 16 year old daughter that gets online at everyone else’s house, so it doesn’t seem to do much good to set parentl controls when other parents don’t. Some of her friends even know how to get the par ental controls off that parents have set. Everyone needs to wake up to the danger of online predators!

  8. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    what to do??? » This is a great question and one I’ve been thinking about a lot myself. I’ve talked to several experts on this topic and wonder if anyone out there would be interested in reading articles on what teens are doing online, etc., in Empowering Parents. (An article on Myspace, Facebook and social networking sites will be in our newsletter next week, but I’m thinking of expanding the topic to include other issues, like video game addiction, cyberbullying, and the problem “What to Do??” brings up here.) If anyone out there has concerns, let me know which are the most important to you…I’d love to hear about it and keep the discussion going.

  9. what to do??? Report

    We have set up very thoughtful parental controls, including hours that it is available to the child, also the computer is in the living room. However I have found that many of the electronics used by kids now have wi-fi internet access or abilities to communicate amongst other like devices(Zune, Nintendo DS, and PSP2.) I find that very disturbing. As a parent I would like to be able to provide a safe environment for the kids but Teen Boy is constantly borrowing those electronics from friends. I also find it disturbing that a Zune (which his birth mother bought him) can receive information from anyone in proximity with another Zune. So if He goes to the library to “work on a project” he could just as likely be viewing inappropriate websites etc. (on a borrowed PSP2) since they provide free wi-fi. Or sharing information from Zune to Zune while he is in school. I really wish schools had maintained the no electronics rule they had when I was a student….maybe that is where I should start working to make a change?

  10. Frustrated Report

    I agree that we need to watch our kids more, but how do you make sure they are safe every minute of the day? With school, friend’s computers, etc., there’s no way to watch them all the time.

  11. concerned dad Report

    I moved my daughter’s computer into the living room last night after I found out a strange guy messaged her online. We are reporting the incident to the authorities.



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families