It's parents' job to worry about their kids, and technology continues to fuel their fears. But a new survey from Pew Internet shows that parents are taking action, and not just relying on parental control tools such as browser filters. An increasing number are opting to join their kids on social media.
Over 80 percent of parents with kids ages 12-17 are worried about online tracking , the survey found, and 72 percent also cite concern about their kids communicating with people the kids don't know. Parents also are worried about how kids' online activities will affect their future school and job prospects, and express doubts about children's ability to manage their online reputations.
Parents are mastering social networks to help allay their concerns, one of a handful of tricks they are using to keep tabs on their kids' online activities.
More than 40 percent of parents say they've searched for their child's name online to see what's been posted. Half the parents of online teens have used parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering or monitoring their child’s online activities — a number that has remained almost unchanged since last year, Pew said.
However, the proportion of parents who use social media themselves has grown from 58 percent a year ago to 66 percent today. About one-third of parents say they have helped their child set up privacy settings on a social network site. And about half the parents who use social media themselves say they interact with their kids on Facebook and other social sites by posting a comment or by talking to their kids about something the kids have posted.
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The survey asked parents whether they read the privacy policies of websites their kids frequent, but it did not ask about other measures parents might use to stop websites from tracking their kids. Twitter is the only social media site to acknowledge a "Do Not Track" request, which can be turned on in most browsers.
For more advice, read " How to Stop Sites from Tracking You ."