Risk communication in the Internet Age: Parental challenges in monitoring the Internet use of adolescents

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Hopper-losenicky, Kristin
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Lulu Rodriguez
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Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication offers two majors: Advertising (instructing students in applied communication for work in business or industry), and Journalism and Mass Communication (instructing students in various aspects of news and information organizing, writing, editing, and presentation on various topics and in various platforms). The Department of Agricultural Journalism was formed in 1905 in the Division of Agriculture. In 1925 its name was changed to the Department of Technical Journalism. In 1969 its name changed to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; from 1969 to 1989 the department was directed by all four colleges, and in 1989 was placed under the direction of the College of Sciences and Humanities (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). In 1998 its name was changed to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
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Today's experts encourage serious conversations between parents and children about the risks of online activities, including sexual predators, identity theft, and bullying. This study gathers qualitative data regarding effective communication strategies parents have adopted to alert and educate their adolescent children about personal safety risks online. To what extent do parents and children agree about house rules regarding Internet use? Are there discrepancies in these two parties' views regarding what are unsafe and acceptable online habits? This study tests the tenets of social learning theory to discern the impact of parental modeling behaviors such as effective rule making and punishments. It also examined the extent to which parent and child views are congruent and are in agreement over Internet use rules and practices at home. To gather data, ten mother-adolescent child dyads were interviewed face-to-face.

The participants report a number of Internet safety practices at home. These include large doses of anecdotes and lessons from parents, the integration of lesson learned from public school programs into house rules, and parental access to children's online accounts. Parents also report using filtering and blocking software, setting children's online accounts for maximum privacy, acting as "friends" on social networking sites, and children's participation in extra-curricular activities. Suggestions to improve parental monitoring practices are offered.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2010