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Study: Increasing Majority Of Parents Fear Kids Being Tracked Online

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A vast majority of parents have growing concern over who and their kids are doing online. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

A vast majority of parents have growing concern over who and their kids are doing online. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – A large and increasing majority of parents are concerned with who can monitor and follow their children’s online activity.

According to a new study from the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of parents of online teens say they are concerned about how much information advertisers can learn about their child’s online behavior, with 46 percent reporting they are “very” concerned about the possibility of privacy intrusion.

But parents also expressed concern about what their kids could be doing to themselves in the online world.

Seventy-two percent of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child interacts online with people they do not know, with some 53 percent of parents being “very” concerned. Some 69 percent of parents of online teens are concerned about how their child manages his or her reputation online, with some 49 percent being “very” concerned about that.

Social media and its connection between academic and career success also has a large majority of parents concerned that their children could be hurting their future unknowingly.

Half of parents of online teens reported using parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering, or monitoring their child’s online activities—a number that has remained almost unchanged since last year.

Forty-two percent of parents of online teens have searched for their child’s name online to see what information is available about him or her.

Sixty-nine percent of parents of online teens showed concern about how their child’s online activity might affect their future academic or employment opportunities, with some 44 percent of parents being “very” concerned about kids hurting themselves in that way.

Some of these expressions of concern are particularly acute for the parents of younger teens – 63 percent of parents of teens ages 12-13 say they are “very” concerned about their child’s interactions with people they do not know online and 57 percent say they are “very” concerned about how their child manages his or her reputation online at such a young age.

These findings are based on a nationally representative phone survey of 802 parents and their 802 teens ages 12-17. It was conducted between July 26 and Sept. 30, 2012. The team conducted 16 focus group interviews with roughly 120 students.

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