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updated 10/24/2007 5:12:21 PM ET 2007-10-24T21:12:21

Parents have become more ambivalent about the Internet, with a new study finding fewer of them considering it good for their children.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project said Wednesday that about 59 percent of Americans with children ages 12-17 consider the Internet a positive influence on their kids. That is based on a 2006 survey, the latest available on the topic, and represents a drop from 67 percent in 2004.

Meanwhile, those who do not believe the Internet has had an effect one way or the other increased to 30 percent, from 25 percent.

"The Internet for a lot of parents is now a mature technology," said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist at Pew. "They are not in a honeymoon period with the Internet anymore. They are realizing the Internet is something with good and bad things."

In both years, only a small percentage consider the Internet bad. Although parents are hearing about sexual predators and other dangers online, Lenhart said, they also see the Internet's benefits for homework.

"Parents are seeing both sides of the coin," she said.

The study found parents more concerned about content than time spent online. Sixty-eight percent said they have rules about sites their children can or cannot visit, while only 55 percent control the amount of time they can spend online.

"Time use is seen as problematic for reasons related to obesity, but parents are more concerned about keeping their children sheltered and safe from a lot of the images and things that come through the content on the Internet," Lenhart said.

Parents were more likely than their children to own desktop computers, laptops, cell phones and personal digital assistants, but the kids were more likely to have Apple's iPods and other digital music players — 51 percent of children vs. 29 percent of parents.

Children were more likely than parents to consider computers and gadgets helpful to their lives. Among parents, mothers were more likely than fathers to praise technology.

The study of 935 sets of U.S. parents and children was conducted by telephone Oct. 23-Nov. 19, 2006. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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