You are on page 1of 4

AVG Technologies Digital Diaries: Research, Results, and Reflections for Parents Of Children Ages 14-17

By Jason Brand, LCSW and Rona Renner, RN

By age 14 your teen will likely have reached digital adulthood. This happens when teens are granted more privacy and greater access to smart phones, the Internet, and social media sites. Between the ages of 14-17 teenagers put this new technology to use in helping to figure out, and connect to their world. With a digital assistant in hand a teen has a tool that becomes an important part of school life, home life, and social life. When so much of teen life happens online, it is important you have a realistic picture of what life is like in your teens digital shoes. This latest round of AVG Technologies Digital Diaries Series highlights areas of concern for parents of teens who are coming of age in a digital culture. To help you get a clearer sense of how your teens online behavior might (or might not) match up with your perceptions, we have taken some of the findings from this round of research from AVG and compared them to recent studies where teens were asked about their digital lives.

Parents suspected their teens of sexting far more than teens reported in a recent study. Of the 4440 parents surveyed in the AVG Digital Diaries study, 21% of American, 22% of Australian, and 23% of British parents suspect their kids of sexting or sending sexually explicit text messages A national survey of US 10-to-17-year-olds published in late 2011 in the medical journal Pediatrics found the number of teens who said that they sent sexually explicit images was actually quite low. According to the survey abstract, Two and one-half percent of youth had appeared in or created nude or nearly nude pictures or videos. However, this percentage is reduced to 1.0% when the definition is restricted to only include images that were sexually explicit (i.e., showed naked breasts, genitals, or bottoms). While some parents report seeing explicit or abusive messages on their teens profiles, the majority of teens reported kind behavior online. According to the AVG survey 20% of UK and US parents, and over 25% in Australia and New Zealand have seen explicit or abusive messages on their teens profiles. Pew Internet survey in late 2011 of 799 12-17 year olds that looked at, Teens Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites found that, the majority of social media-using teens say their peers are mostly kind to one another on social network sites.

A large number of parents reported secretly accessing their teens Facebook account while teens reported that their parents were an important resource in helping them understand their online behavior In the AVG study, a majority of parents in the USA (61%), Spain (61%), Italy (54%) and Canada (54%) admit to secretly accessing their teens Facebook account without them knowing. In the Pew Study cited above, 58% of teen internet and cell phone users say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate or inappropriate when using the internet or a cell phone. The Pew Study cited above also points out that kids know their parents are monitoring their Facebook page. According to the study, 61% of teens report that their parent has checked their social network site.

The Bottom Line

We are still getting used to what it means to relate online. There is plenty to be concerned about when it comes to teens who are coming of age in a digital culture. It is, however, important not to let fear cause you to lose sight of your actual teen. Use the information from these surveys to have a conversation with your teen about the ups and downs of being a family in the digital age. Listen closely when your teen describes what he or she is actually up to online and keep in mind that teens want to learn from and be influenced by their parents. Continue to assess your approach to gathering information and maintaining a good relationship with your teen.

Common Sense Media is a terrific resource for up-to-date information on all types of media for kids. Net Family News is a great place to find out about all of the latest happenings in teens tech lives. Pew Internet Study Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites Pediatrics Article - Prevalence and Characteristics of Youth Sexting: A National Study

You can find more detailed information on the research at

To learn about Jason Brand, visit To learn about Rona Renner, visit,