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Kids and the Internet: How Worried Should Parents Be?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on June 15, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's a concern that's unique to the most recent generation of parents: how worried should I be about my child's Internet use? We've all heard the anecdotes about everything from screen time to online bullying, and as the Internet grows and evolves, it's only natural for parents to become more uneasy about the amount of time their kids are spending on the Internet and what they're seeing and sharing while online.

A recent FindLaw survey backs this up -- parents are more worried about their children's safety while they use the Internet than they were four years ago. But are they doing more anything about it?

A Growing Disconnect

FindLaw polled parents back in 2011, and 67 percent said they were somewhat, very, or extremely worried about their child's safety on the Internet. That number increased to 76 percent in the latest poll, with only 7 percent of parents responding that they were not worried at all.

These numbers stand in stark contrast, however, to the measures taken by parents to protect their children. While 74 percent of parents from the 2011 poll said they were taking steps to safeguard their children, just 66 percent were doing the same today. Such protective measures include:

  • Monitoring which sites they visit;
  • Using site-blocking software;
  • Restricting their access to computers;
  • Restricting their use of social networks; and
  • Read their emails or social posts.

The percentage of parents that don't allow any Internet usage at all has not changed substantially over the last four years.

A Safe Space

Parents who want to bridge the gap between worrying and doing something about it have a variety of sources for online safety tips. FindLaw's Law and Daily Life blog posts extensively on Internet and online safety issues, and the FBI provides a Parent's Guide to Internet Safety that can help parents protect their children from online predators.

Ultimately, it is up to parents to assess the risks their children are facing online, keep an eye on their children's Internet usage, and intervene when necessary. While new parents may be learning on the fly about how to properly manage Internet exposure (even their own), it's up to them to teach their children good online habits.

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