Parents Ill Prepared to Monitor Internet Usage by Children: Know Less Than Kids Do, Experts Note
Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Before children surf the Web, parents should instruct them how to do it safely, say experts with the Internet Online Summit that is being held this week in Washington.
But concerns are being raised about how effective parents can be when they know less about the Internet than their children and they're not with their child every time they go on line.
"We don't live in a Beaver Cleaver world, and it's not like it used to be where the parents are home and Mom is home baking cookies," said Monique Nelson, chief operating officer of the Virginia anti-pornography group Enough Is Enough.
Mom and Dad - "especially in the 50-and-older age group" - don't know all that much about the Internet, said Mrs. Nelson, whose group specializes in computer-related pornography issues.
Parents can learn how to use the Internet with some instruction, she added. "Unfortunately, they just don't know the pitfalls."
Of the estimated 8.4 million Internet users in 1996, just 13 percent were age 50 and older, said an Internet user survey conducted by Find/SVP.
Today, the number of Internet users has grown vastly - America Online alone says it has 12 million subscribers and the other big Internet providers have millions of subscribers.
Experts believe the bulk of users are in the 18- to 40-year-old age group, with more males than females.
Children are a small but growing part of the Internet population. The 1996 Find/SVP survey said that more than 1 million children under 18 used the
Internet, based on parental responses, although many more children have access to the Internet at home or at school.
The number of children using the Internet should grow to around 20 million by 2002, said Jupiter Communications, which issued the 1997 Online Kids Report.
Most of the top students already use it, according to the 1997 Who's Who Among American High School Students survey conducted by Educational Communications Inc. Seventy-nine percent of more than 3,000 high school students surveyed said they had access to the Internet, and used it most frequently at school or at home.
"What happens to parental control once their child is dropped off at school?" Concerned Women for America Vice President Carmen Pate asked this week.
A paper written for the summit by a panel of experts, including Enough is Enough and Focus on the Family, urged parents to get schools to set policies on Internet use, including requiring adult supervision when students are on line. …