Parents should find a balanced approach to guide their kids in making moral, safe online decisions, researchers say. (Agencies)
In a study on parenting strategies and online adolescent safety, the researchers from Pennsylvania State University found that parents should try to establish a middle ground between keeping their teenage kids away from internet and not monitoring their online activities at all.
"Overly restrictive parents limit the positive online experiences a teenage boy or girl can have but overly permissive parents are not putting the right types of demands on their children to make good choices," explained Pamela Wisniewski, a post-doctoral scholar in information sciences and technology at Pennsylvania State University.
Active mediation and monitoring online behaviour - not blanket rules - may be a better strategy.
"Parents should have some level of monitoring their children online usage but not necessarily in a covert way because that may create trust problems," Wisniewski added.
Parents should start to work with their kids in making decisions about online behaviour when their children are young.
"The earlier the better. By the time they are 16 or 17, it is probably too late to jump in and start to intervene," Wisniewski suggested.
Parents who learn more about technology can better guide their children.
The researchers studied the parenting styles and mediation strategies of 12 pairs of parents and their children aged 13 to 17.
They interviewed the children and parents separately about online activities such as illegal downloading, cyber bullying and identity theft.
Most of the younger kids were more compliant to parents while the older children tended to make moral decisions by weighing personal rewards and punishment, concluded the researchers who presented their findings at the recent conference titled -- computer supported cooperative work -- in Baltimore, Maryland.
Parents should find a balanced approach to guide their kids in making moral, safe online decisions, researchers say.