Do you know where your kids have been…online? Parenting in the age of smartphones & social media

Today’s children and teens are using the Internet as a part of their daily lives. But along with the many benefits of using technology at a young age, there are also many risks – like cyberbullying, loss of privacy, and encountering sexual predators.

In this year’s report of the top 10 health issues facing kids in the U.S., 22% of adults said Internet safety is a “big problem” for kids in their communities. But what exactly are parents concerned about when it comes to Internet safety with their kids – and what are they doing to keep their kids safe?

We asked parents about their Internet safety concerns in a 2009 National Poll on Children’s Health. Overall, 1 in 3 parents said they are “very concerned” about online sexual predators and 1 in 5 said they are “very concerned” about loss of privacy and about their children viewing pornographic material online. Parents expressed greater concern about their daughters encountering sexual predators and about their sons viewing pornographic material. Read the full report: Internet predators, privacy and porn concern parents.

We also asked parents what they do to protect their children online or monitor their children’s Internet use:

  • 65% disable pop-ups
  • 62% monitor social networking sites
  • 61% check history of websites
  • 49% block websites they don’t want kids to use
  • 32% use child-safe software

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 50% of parents whose teens use the Internet have used parental controls to filter, block, or monitor their teens’ Internet use.  About a third of parents (31%) have helped their teen set up privacy settings on a social networking site and 44% of parents say they’ve read the privacy policies of websites or social networks their teen is using.

Last week, we released a new report about Internet safety regulations that might help keep kids safe online. But as new web technologies emerge and the digital landscape continues to change, parents play a key role in their kids’ Internet safety. Parents can talk to their children and teens about Internet safety: discuss what information is appropriate to share online and what should never be shared, talk about who sees the information that is posted on social networks, and teach them how to recognize websites or situations that are unsafe. Parents can also use the Internet with their children: share their own positive Internet habits with their kids and ask their children to show them their favorite websites and discuss why they like them.

What do you do to help keep your kids safe online? We want to hear from you! Share your experiences in the comments section.