US parenting & the Net: Study

By Anne Collier

Remember the old “no TV for a week” verdict when we misbehaved? Well, that’s being nudged out by the new “no Internet for a week” one, according to the 10th-annual USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future survey. “Parents are now limiting their children’s Internet access and television use in nearly identical ways,” the Center reports. While for years three in five American households restrict TV as punishment, it adds, restricting Net use “has steadily increased over the years and is now a practice in 57% of the nation’s homes with children under 18.” That’s “up from 32% in 2000,” says the coverage at “Parents are starting to not see a big distinction between TV watching and Internet use. Even so, parents are still more comfortable with the amount of time kids spend on the Internet – 71% said it was ‘just about right’ compared with just 51% for TV.” [BTW, 96% of US parents “think their kids are pretty well-behaved, actually,” according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics cited by MSNBC recently.]

But the Annenberg Center’s annual survey looks at a lot more than tech parenting. Among other highlights, the Center also found that, for the first time, Internet use by Americans passed the 80% mark (to 82% overall). Broken down by age, it’s 100% for users under 24, but the researchers were surprised by the high percentage of users aged 36-55 who don’t use the Net at all: 15% of 36-to-45-year-olds are non-users and 19% of 46-to-55-year-olds are. As for the average time spent online, that’s 19 hours a week.

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