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Survey: Parents worried about online use

But other than using technological filters, neither parents nor teachers seem equipped to deal with the challenges.
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Written by ZDNet Editors, Contributors on

A new Internet poll released this week at a National PTA meeting in New York City found that despite parents' concerns about social networking safety, most parents are clueless as to how to teach their children about being responsible Internet users, reports News.com.

The poll, commissioned by Cable in the Classroom in July, said that although as many as 94 percent of parents have taken some steps to protect children such as Web content filters and monitoring software, they don't feel confident about teaching kids how to use the Internet safely. The poll asked 374 parents of kids age 8 to 18, and 90 percent of them said parents should bear most of the responsibility.

"The world, technology and the Web are changing very fast, and adults in general are struggling to keep up," said Douglas Levin, senior director of education policy for Cable in the Classroom, a 22-year-old national education foundation sponsored by the cable industry.

High schoolers spend as much as 5.1 hours a day online when they're out of school, middle school children spend 4.9 hours daily and elementary school children spend 3.8 hours a day. This means that kids are increasingly exposed to online predators and marketers by giving out personal information on blogs and social networking profiles.

Despite a need to shoulder the responsibility, teachers seem bereft of the materials and time needed to teach kids about online media literacy. According to Levin, 60 percent of teachers said that information and media literacy skills aren't taught enough in schools. And 78 percent of teachers said that they've had to learn about media literacy skills on their own in order to educate kids.

So what strategies should parents use? According to Levin: Set rules for online behavior, use technology to limit the options, and mostly, don't panic.

Kids will eventually run into something online that they shouldn't. Talking to children about it is the best approach, Levin said.

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