MONDAY, Dec. 2, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Parents' concern about
their children's online safety might vary according to their race,
ethnicity and other factors, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data from a 2011 online survey of more than
1,000 parents across the United States who were asked how worried
they were about five potential online dangers faced by their
The parents rated their levels of concern on a scale of one (not
concerned) to five (extremely concerned). The parents' biggest
concerns were: their children meeting someone who means to do harm
(4.3 level of concern), being exposed to pornographic content
(4.2), being exposed to violent content (3.7), being a victim of
online bullying (3.5) and bullying another child online (2.4).
White parents were the least concerned about all online safety
issues, the researchers found. Asian and Hispanic parents were more
likely to be concerned about all online safety issues. Black
parents were more concerned than white parents about their children
meeting harmful strangers or being exposed to pornography.
"Policies that aim to protect children online talk about
parents' concerns, assuming parents are this one [uniform] group,"
study co-author Eszter Hargittai, a professor in the department of
communication studies at Northwestern University, said in a
university news release. "When you take a close look at demographic
backgrounds of parents, concerns are not uniform across population
The study, published recently in the journal
Policy & Internet, also found that urban parents tended
to be more concerned about online threats to their children than
suburban or rural parents. In addition, college-educated parents
had lower levels of fear than those with less education.
Among the other findings: Having a higher income was related to lower fears about
children's exposure to pornography, being bullied or being a
bully.Parents with liberal political views were less concerned than
moderates or conservatives about pornography. Liberal parents,
however, were more concerned about their child becoming a
bully.Parents of daughters and of younger children were more
concerned than parents of sons about the threat of their children
meeting a stranger or being exposed to violent content.Parents' gender or religious beliefs have little effect on
their levels of concern.
The FBI offers parents a
guide to Internet safety.