More parents are using social media to keep tabs on their kids, according to a new survey. (Joerg Koch/Associated Press)

It’s parents’ job to worry about their kids, and technology continues to fuel their fears. A new survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that parents are taking action, not just relying on parental-control tools such as browser filters. An increasing number of them are opting to join their kids on social media.

More than 80 percent of parents with kids ages 12 to 17 are worried about online tracking, the collection of data on Web activity, the survey found. Seventy-two percent cite concern about their kids’ communicating with people the kids don’t know.

Parents also are worried about how kids’ online activities will affect their school and job prospects, and they express doubts about children’s ability to manage their online reputations, according to the survey.

Parents are mastering social networks to help allay their concerns, one of a handful of tricks they are using to keep tabs on their kids’ online activities.

More than 40 percent of parents say they have searched for their child’s name online to see what has been posted. Half the parents of online teens have used parental controls or other means of blocking, filtering or monitoring their child’s online activities, a proportion that has remained almost unchanged since last year, Pew said.

However, the share of parents who use social media themselves has grown from 58 percent a year ago to 66 percent today. About a third of parents say they have helped their child set up privacy settings on a social network site. And about half the parents who use social media themselves say they interact with their kids on Facebook and other social sites by posting comments or by talking to them about something the kids have posted.

The survey asked parents whether they read the privacy policies of Web sites their kids frequent, but it did not ask about other measures parents might use to stop Web sites from tracking their kids.

Twitter is the only social media site to acknowledge a “Do Not Track” request, which can be turned on in most browsers.


For more advice, read “How to Stop Sites from Tracking You.”

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