Additional findings from NCSA/Norton Online Safety Study: keeping young people safe

Nov 8, 2010 10:59am

By Michael Kaiser, NCSA Executive Director

When we released the results of the annual NCSA/Norton Online Safety Study a couple of weeks ago, there was a lot of data to sort through. A couple of numbers jumped out at us that are worthy of closer scrutiny. When we asked respondents who bears the most responsibility teaching children online safety habits, nearly 90 percent of Americans reported that it falls to parents. Only seven percent think teachers and schools bear that main responsibility.  

This finding is interesting in light of new pressures K-12 school districts face in incorporating cyber education into their curricula. An NCSA-Microsoftstudy released earlier this year found that more than 97 percent of teachers, administrators and technology coordinators agreed cyber ethics, cybersafety and cybersecurity should be part of the required curricula. It also found that teachers believe that parents should teaching online safety while school administrators think teachers are responsible for those topics. A clear disconnect about responsibility.

When it comes to how old a child should be to have own a computer, opinions were divided. About 16% of the NCSA/Norton study respondents indicated less than six years old, about 20% said between 6-9 years old, while 28 percent identified ages 10 to 13 as most appropriate. Another 30 percent said a child should be older than 13 before owning a computer. This lack of consensus might make it difficult for parents to know when is the right time to give technology to their children and how to manage their child’s online experience if, for example, their children's friends live in households that have differing views on the age when children should have their own computer. In the digital age we need to provide more guidance about age appropriate technology ownership and usage.

An article in USA Today, raises the same question about smart phone usage and the potential impact it has on younger children.

We encourage increasing dialogue between parents and teachers, parents and children, and parents and parents to find areas of agreement.