In today’s digital world, there is a disconnect between parents and children about the use of technology. Time online is largely private time. For both adults and children alike, this leads to a variety of temptations.
- Temptations of Content: You wouldn’t watch that sexual video on TV with others in the room, but the same video calls to you online.
- Temptations of Communication: You would never utter that harsh word to someone’s face, but now online it is easier to type.
- Temptations of the Clock: The hours you planned to get work done are suddenly wasted on Facebook, chatting, and watching YouTube clips.
Researchers call this pattern the “online disinhibition effect.” We lose our inhibitions online because we believe no one is watching us. We don’t see the connection between our online actions and their impact on others or ourselves. We get sucked in by the experience of a whole world at our fingertips, with no one but ourselves to tell us how to use it.
This is why Internet accountability is critical for adults and children alike. By getting rid of the potential for secrecy, we bring our Internet use into the light of honesty and transparency.
Why Kids Need to Buy Into Accountability
The purpose of this guide is to give you information for talking to your family about the importance of Internet accountability and filtering.
Ultimately, as parents, we hope “parental controls” are not just a tactic we use to keep our kids in line while they are under our roof. We want more for our kids. We want them to buy into the need for Internet protection. We want them to become their own watchdogs online. We want them to leave home as young adults prepared for a world without filters.
This means providing not just good technology, but good parenting. We need to teach our kids the value of accountability online.
Disconnect Between Parents and Kids
According to a recent survey of Internet users:
- Teens spend an average of five hours a day online, but their parents think their kids only spend two.
- 71% of teens have done something to hide their online behavior from their parents.
- 41% of teens say they check their social network accounts, not just every day but “constantly.” Only 22% of parents said the same thing about their kids.
- 45% of teens say they have visited a website they know their parents would disapprove of. Only 24% of parents are aware of this about their children.
- 31% of teens say they have pirated music or movies online. Only 12% of parents are aware of this.
- 53% of teens have cleared browser history to hide Internet activity (82% of parents are unaware teens do this).
- 46% of teens have minimized a browser window to hide online activity (83% of parents are unaware teens do this).
What do we learn from surveys like this? We learn that parents are largely unaware when it comes to what their kids are doing online, even if they think they aren’t. We also learn that kids spend a lot of private time online that is completely unmonitored.
Introducing Kids to Accountability
Hundreds of thousands of adults use Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability to safeguard their own time online. These adults have made a decision that letting others know about where they go and what they see online is beneficial to their lives.
The same can be true for kids. They can be taught from a young age to value accountability in their own lives.