Thirty percent of parents let children use Facebook unsupervised, reports 11th annual study of the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future 2013 report also finds vast differences in behavior among Millennials and non-Millennials; online bullying, harassment and unwanted sexual attention affects all age ranges

LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Do parents trust their children on Facebook?

While a large percentage of adults say they monitor the activity of children in their households on social networking sites such as Facebook, almost one-third (30 percent) do not, according to findings in the annual study of the impact of the Internet on Americans by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future. 

"It's every parent's dilemma to know when to trust their children," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future. "In the last five years, we have seen many new issues about parenting and technology evolve that previous generations never encountered. How parents cope with their children using social media like Facebook represents only one aspect of these issues."

The study, conducted in association with Bovitz Inc., found that although 70 percent of adults said they monitor the activity of the children in their households while on Facebook or other social networking sites, a smaller group (46 percent) have password access to the children's accounts.

The findings also show that of the adults who do not monitor the social networking activity of the children in their households, 40 percent cite trust as the explanation; either they trust their children or they believe that monitoring online behavior would show lack of trust.  Nine percent of adults don't monitor their household's children on Facebook because they don't know how to use the social networking site, and 7 percent don't because "they don't have time to do it."

And in related questions, adults were asked at what age the children in their households should have a mobile phone or Facebook account. They responded the appropriate average is 13 for mobile phones and 15 for a Facebook account.

The responses about parent supervision of children on Facebook are among the more than 180 issues explored in the 2013 Digital Future Project, the longest continuing study of its kind and the first to develop a longitudinal survey of the views and behavior of Internet users and non-users.

Conducted in conjunction with Bovitz Inc., the current study includes new questions that explore negative online attention (bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual attention), and a closer examination of the "Millennial rift" – the vast differences between how Millennials (age 18-34) and non-Millennials use and perceive online sites and services.

The "Millennial Rift": Differences between Millennials and non-Millennials in the spectrum of online behavior

The Digital Future Survey found that Millennials, when compared to non-Millennials, have different views about using the Internet and report significant differences in many aspects of their behavior online.

Buying online:

  • Millennials are more involved with mobile shopping and comparison shopping than non-Millennials.  Sixty-eight percent of Millennials have done a price comparison on their mobile devices while in a store to find if there is a better deal available online, compared to 43 percent of non-Millennials.
  • Twice as many Millennials (23 percent) as non-Millennials (10 percent) have purchased products online on their mobile device while in a traditional retail store.
  • Forty-six percent of Millennials compared to 24 percent of non-Millennials have done an online price comparison in a store to find a better deal at another retail store.

Millennials as consumers of online media content – Compared to non-Millennials in the study, Millennials spend:

  • three times as much time watching movies online.
  • twice as much time listening to online radio.
  • four times as much time watching television online.
  • more than twice as much time watching paid online television services such as Hulu Plus.
  • and almost twice as many watch movies sometimes or often through a fee service such as CinemaNow or Netflix.

* Online video content – More than twice as many Millennials as non-Millennials watch online versions of television shows or music videos.

* Perceptions of social networking sites – Higher percentages of Millennials (70 percent) compared to non-Millennials (51 percent) value social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus as important for maintaining their relationships. 

* Following and friending companies and brands – Compared to non-Millennials, Millennials follow nine times as many companies and brands on Twitter, and "friend" more than twice as many companies and brands on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Changing patterns of online purchasing; views about sales tax

The 2013 report explored a variety of new issues involving online buying, including purchasing on mobile devices and the impact of sales tax on Internet buying:

Sales tax and online purchasing – More than half of Internet buyers (52 percent) said that if their state starts to collect tax for online purchases, they would buy less online, and 9 percent said they would stop buying online altogether.  Only 39 percent said that sales tax charged for online purchases would not change their purchasing.

Browsing and price-comparing in retail stores with a mobile device – The survey found popular use of mobile devices while shoppers browse in traditional retail stores:

* Forty-nine percent of Internet purchasers who browse in local retail stores said they have compared prices on a mobile device while in a store to see if there is a better deal available online. 

* Thirty percent of Internet users overall said they have used a mobile device while in a store to determine if a better deal was available at another store nearby. 

* Thirteen percent of online purchasers who browse locally said they have purchased a product online with a mobile device while in a store.  Seventy percent of that group made the purchase from a competing online retailer, and not from the store's website.

Bullying, harassment, unwanted sexual attention: problems that cross all age groups

The Digital Future Project explored the darker side of Internet use by asking new questions about online bullying, harassment, and unwanted online sexual attention.

Online bullying and harassment – A small group of respondents (10.4 percent) said they had been bullied or harassed online.  Almost equal proportions of men (10.3 percent) and women (10.5 percent) reported being bullied or harassed online.

Online bullying: a problem across all ages groups – Although bullying and harassment of young Internet users has dominated media coverage of this problem, the survey found that measurable percentages of users in all age ranges report that they have been bullied or harassed.  The largest of these groups was users under 18 (18 percent of them reported being bullied or harassed).

Online bullying and harassment (impact) – Sixty-eight percent of those who have been bullied or harassed online report that the impact was minor.  However, more than 30 percent of those who have been bullied or harassed online said the impact was moderate or worse, and 14 percent said it was serious. That impact was judged moderate or serious by more than twice as many women (21 percent) as men (10 percent).

Unwanted sexual attention online – Compared to the percentage of those who have been bullied or harassed online (10 percent), more than double (21 percent) said they have received unwanted sexual attention online.

Unwanted sexual attention online: men vs. women – Both men and women receive unwanted sexual attention online; a higher percentage of women (24 percent) than men (18 percent) face the problem of receiving unwanted sexual attention online.

Unwanted sexual attention online: by age – While more than one-third of users under 18 reported receiving unwanted sexual attention online, significant percentages of users in all age categories reported it as well.

"Negative online attention – including bullying, harassment, and unwanted sexual communication – produces effects ranging from minor nuisances to tragic consequences," said Cole.  "While prominent cases in the news focus on how negative online attention affects young users, our study found that these issues affect users of all ages; these issues demand continued exploration."

The USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future:
11 annual studies that explore the digital realm

Since 2000, the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future (digitalcenter.org) has examined the behavior and views of a national sample of Internet users and non-users in major annual surveys of the impact of the Internet on America.  The center also created and organizes the World Internet Project, which includes similar research with 37 international partners in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australasia.

The Digital Future Project

The Digital Future Project provides a broad year-to-year exploration of the influence of the Internet and online technology on Americans.  Through a longitudinal survey, the annual project has examined the behavior and views of a national sample of Internet users and non-users.  The survey, concluded in September 2012, surveyed 1,351 phone and online respondents has a margin of error of +/- 2.7%.

For highlights of the 2013 Digital Future Project or to download a copy of the complete report, visit www.digitalcenter.org. The full report also can be found here: [http://www.digitalcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/2013-Report.pdf]

Bovitz, Inc.

Bovitz, Inc. (bovitzinc.com) is a design-driven research and strategy firm that helps organizations uncover opportunity and drive innovation.

SOURCE USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism



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