Privacy not included: 3 in 4 parents admit to cyber-snooping on kids

NEW YORK — Six in 10 parents believe that their children do not have a right to privacy when it comes to their digital devices — which may explain why even more admit they actively snoop on their children’s phones and computers to see what they’re up to, a new survey finds.

The research, commissioned by the company ParentWise (which develops technology that allows parents to snoop on their kids), surveyed 2,000 American parents on whether or not they monitor their children’s online activities. Three-quarters of respondents confirmed they keep tabs on their kids’ smartphone and internet use.

Most of the parents that acknowledge their digital helicoptering express no remorse. Of those who snoop, 84% feel they’re perfectly within their rights as parents to watch over their activity and ensure the safety of their children online. In fact, 60% of these parents said they believe their children have no right to privacy on their smartphones, computers, tablets, and other devices.

This prevalence of parental snooping is likely the result of a growing gulf between parents and their children in technological knowledge and ability. Seven in 10 respondents say they aren’t as knowledgeable about technology as their children. What’s worse, 58% of parents with children between the ages of 4 and 10 say their kids are more tech-savvy than they are. So while they’re admitted snoopers, only 40% of parents were confident they’d be able to actually see what kind of interactions their children were having with others online.

That lack of know-how could be making parents more paranoid, particularly with reports of child predators and sex traffickers appearing with more regularity during local newscasts. Nine in 10 parents are concerned about what their kids are exposed to when online, and 64% worry their children are talking to strangers on social media. Interestingly, only 39% felt uneasy about their children posting photos and videos online.

“Worrying about your child’s safety online is one of modern parenting’s toughest struggles, especially with the ever-expanding way children are using devices,” says Steve Horst of ParentWise in a press release.

Of course, the impacts of smartphone use on kids is a hot subject of study in recent years. Many researchers agree that too much screen time can stunt a child’s development, and two-thirds of the respondents in this latest survey agree their child’s cell phone is having a negative effect on them. Incredibly, 63% of parents say their child’s phone actively hinders their ability to raise them properly.

Perhaps it’s time to hang up on the idea of giving smartphones to our kids all together.

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