Note to Washington regulators and would-be censors... Don't look now but parenting is happening! Yes, it really is true: Parents are parenting. That's the result of this new survey by Yahoo & Ipsos OTX. Please pardon my snarky-ness, but I've been going at it for years with mobs of people here in DC who think that all parents are asleep at the wheel and kids are heading straight for the moral abyss. It's a bunch of bunk, as I've pointed out here before. This new Yahoo!/Ipsos survey illustrates that, once again, parents are monitoring what their kids are up to online and taking an active role in mentoring them about web use:
In fact, in many ways, these household efforts represent the most important steps that most parents can take in dealing with potentially objectionable content or teaching their children how to be sensible, savvy media consumers. In my work, I have divided these household media rules into four categories: (1) "where" rules (assigning a place for media consumption); (2) "when and how much" rules (creating a media allowance); (3) "under what conditions" rules (carrot-and-stick incentives); and, (4) "what" rules (specifying the programming kids can and cannot watch). Again, many households reject technical blocking tools in favor of these household media rules.
For example, the U.S. Census Bureau's "A Child's Day" reports, conducted from 1994 to 2006, illustrate how the use of household media rules appears to be growing. Parents are crafting more TV rules for their kids today than they were in the past. The press release for the 2004 report reveals that, "Parents are taking a more active role in the lives of their children than they did 10 years ago." The 2006 study found that 72.4 percent of parents of children age 6 to 11 imposed family television rules on which programs, how early or late, and how many hours children were allowed to watch.
Other surveys and studies have confirmed this. A 2003 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that "Almost all parents say they have some type of rules about their children's use of media." More recent Kaiser surveys have bolstered that finding. For example, a 2006 Kaiser survey of families with infants and preschoolers revealed that 85 percent of those parents who let their children watch TV at that age have rules about what their child can and cannot watch. Of those parents, 63 percent say they always enforce those rules. About the same percentage of parents said they had similar rules for video game and computer usage. Likewise, a June 2007 Kaiser poll revealed that:
Incidentally, one of the most interesting findings of the Yahoo! survey is that, "Dads are doing their part, and then some." "Today's fathers spend more time with their children than three decades ago and take on more household responsibilities," the survey notes. Specifically:
While some might protest that more can and should be done by parents -- which is always going to be the case about everything -- I would hope those critics wouldn't lose sight of how much is already being done by parents to monitor and mentor their children's online actions and interactions. Let's give parents some credit for once!