Middle school children online: Comparing parent awareness and supervision of students' behaviors
Ann Minckler, University of Montana, United States
University of Montana . Awarded
This descriptive study utilized survey research techniques to identify behaviors in which western Montana middle school children engage that potentially put them at risk for online predation. Students and parents were asked to respond to questions regarding computer skills, Internet activities, Internet access locations, and the supervision and rules parents impose upon their children's Internet usage. Responses were compared to determine the behaviors in which students participate that could be considered risky or dangerous.
The study produced a sample of 296 parents and 578 students from nine conveniently selected schools within a 50 mile radius of Missoula, Montana. In most cases, students completed the survey at school. Parent surveys were sent home; however, where policy dictated, both surveys were sent home so that parents could grant permission for student participation.
The data for this study were presented in the form of frequencies and percentages and through descriptions provided by participants. Parents (97%) and students (95%) agreed that most students use the Internet, and students reported being more skilled in using the computer than do parents. While parents and students agreed that the Internet is most often accessed by students at home (parents 88%, students 83%) and at school (parents 88%, students 84%), parents and students disagreed regarding how often students access the Internet from their friends' homes (parents 32%, students 50%), and from the public library (parents 16%, students 26%). Students reported spending nearly twice as much time each week online both at home (parents 778, students 2139) and away from the home (parents 172, students 934) than did parents. More parents (87%) than students (69%) reported having rules established for children's Internet activities.
Parents reported that students most often conducted research for school when they went online, while students reported they most often play online games. Students reported engaging in chat, Instant Messaging, and E-mail more often than parents. Students who used the Internet reported sharing personal information (33%). The information they shared included: first names, last names, phone numbers, E-mail addresses, hobbies and pictures.
Minckler, A. Middle school children online: Comparing parent awareness and supervision of students' behaviors. Ph.D. thesis, University of Montana.
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