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Our view: Parenting in cyberspace

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Parents may know more about the world, but more often kids are sharper when it comes to technology.

Most parents today didn’t grow up with the Internet. In fact, many didn’t even have computers in their homes while growing up. That’s hard to imagine for kids today who are often introduced to technology as toddlers.

A recent Northwest Herald story focusing on a study regarding teens and the use of the Internet reached some conclusions that could be both troubling and encouraging for parents.

According to the study sponsored by online security company McAfee, more than 70 percent of teens said they have done something to hide their online activity. There’s something about being teens that makes them want to hide things from their parents, so that figure shouldn’t be surprising.

However, the study also found that half of the teens surveyed said they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were watching. We suspect some teen bravado in that response, and that a higher percentage would be more careful about where they took their Web browsers if they knew mom could find out.

The important lesson here is that parents need to be parents in both real and cyber settings. Teens live in both worlds, so parents must, too. Parents should negotiate privacy with their children as they would in other areas, but a hands-off approach to Internet use is a mistake.

Smartphones, the Internet and computers are wonderful tools. It isn’t realistic or practical to forbid teens from using technology.

But whether you use monitoring software, limit computer use, or employ other methods, the Internet is another place where parents need to be parents in 2013, and it’s been that way for some time now.

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