In our survey, we asked parents about their feelings about a series of positive and negative impacts of digital technology. Generally, people said the internet and cell phones help their children connect to others and to information, and that technology helps their children become more independent. At the same time, they generally express concerns about the material to which their children are exposed online, the tone of the social world of the internet, and how kids’ time spent with digital technology might take away from their face-to-face engagement with others. Overall, parental views tilted a bit toward the positive assertions, but there was still plenty of angst in their answers.
There were no overall demographic trends to the answers. As a rule, all kinds of people expressed satisfaction and concern in equal measure.
Still, there were a few things to note in survey answers to these questions about parental attitudes:
- Relative to Latinos, whites were more likely to feel that technology helps their child connect to friends and information. Parents with a college degree or some college experience, as well as those in higher-income households (those earning $75,000 or above) were also more likely to see positive benefits of this nature. At the same time, those same groups of parents were more likely to express concern that digital technology exposed their kids to inappropriate content.
- The parents of teens who use Facebook were more likely than others to say that digital technology did a good job connecting their kids to family and friends, to say that the technology helped their child be independent, and that it helped connect their child to information.
- The parents of girls and teens who are frequent users of any social network site were more likely than others to worry about the impact of digital technology on the way teens in general treat each other online or on their phones.