Teens online

I remember when I first discovered the internet. I was 13, I had a Backstreet Boy obsession and my mother's work had Netscape. She would let me browse away on her PC while we waited for her to finish up. But all I knew was how to search pictures and that was enough for me.

Today’s teen user is a lot more tech savvy than I was then, and the internet is a whole different ballgame. Just take a look at Firefox to see how far we’ve come since our humble Netscape days.

According to the Parent24 2009 survey, 6% of all children have unsupervised access to the internet and this figure jumps to 24% with teenagers. While a 13 or 14 year old may still be a bit too young for completely supervised access, 17 and 18 year olds should be smart and mature enough to know netiquette and to be responsible online.  

The survey results also showed that 2nd and 3rd children were more likely to have unsupervised access to the net. This is probably because parents know what is too come with younger kids and with the 1st born it’s still a brand new game. So they’re still being watched.

Internet predators are common and a real fear for most parents. So some sort of supervision is still needed for them, although not the strict watchdog type that younger kids need, but maybe a site monitoring service. While they are mature to a certain extent, teens have the ability to trust easily.

The internet has changed and parents should be aware of it. They should know that it’s no longer as safe as downloading Backstreet Boy pictures. Be aware of new trends online, teach your kids to be wary and take the necessary steps for their safety.

At what age would you leave a child unsupervised on the internet?

The Parent24 2009 survey had more than 8000 responses. The survey, weighted by gender, race and education, represents approximately 7 million metropolitan adults educated to the level of at least matric, across South Africa. For more about the methodology and for results analysis by Jean Redpath and Michael O’Donovan of Hlakanaphila Analytics, download the Parent24 2009 survey PDF. Or see full results.
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