Parents' New Fears: Reputation Management, Advertiser Exposure

In terms of their teens' online activities, interaction with strangers still ranks (just barely) as the top concern, according to a new Pew Center/Harvard report.

What's the Latest Development?

A new joint Pew Center-Harvard report titled Parents, Teens and Online Policy reveals that 49 percent of American parents polled were "very concerned" about their teenage children's "reputation management" skills as they relate to their online activities. This placed second to the ever-present "interaction with strangers" (53 percent) on the list, and ranked above "information available to advertisers" (46 percent) and their children's activities' "impact on future opportunities" (44 percent). When packaged together with the percentage of parents who reported being "somewhat concerned," there was very little difference percentage-wise between these four concerns.

What's the Big Idea?

The data demonstrates parents' awareness of the power of social networks and the longevity of data posted online. According to the survey, 66 percent say they use social networking sites themselves, an eight-percent jump from last year. The survey also asked parents what they were doing to manage and monitor their teens' online behavior. Half reported using parental controls, while 44 percent read the privacy policies of their children's favorite sites, and 42 percent searched for their child's name online.

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