The Complex Digital Lives of Parents and Teens

By NCSA, Special for  USDR

A National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) study of online safety attitudes and behaviors released today reveals a complex relationship between American teens and parents. The U.S.-based survey, Keeping Up with Generation App: NCSA Parent/Teen Online Safety Survey, which interviewed 804 online teens between the ages of 13 and 17 and a separate sample of 810 online parents, found several signs of an apparent digital disconnect, illustrated by the finding that 60 percent of teen internet users have created online accounts that their parents are unaware of – more than double the 28 percent of online parents who suspect their teens have secret accounts. The study also found a high reliance by teens on peer-to-peer support with 43 percent of respondents saying friends have sought their support because they encountered issues  online.

Co-sponsored by Microsoft, the study was designed to better understand the dynamic online lives of teenagers, including the kinds of problems they face in their digital daily lives and parents’ levels of concern and engagement. It found that as “Generation App” spends much of its day on a phone, device or computer using a wide range of apps and websites, parents are having a hard time keeping up. For example, 30 percent of teens say their parents are “not aware at all” or “not very aware” of their online activities while 57 percent of parents surveyed admit that they are similarly in the dark about what their kids are doing online. Moreover, 28 percent of teens report that their households have no rules when it comes to their use of internet-connected devices, whereas only 9 percent of parents said that was the case in their  household.