Parental mediation of adolescent Internet use: Combining strategies to promote awareness, autonomy and self-regulation in preparing youth for life on the web

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Abstract

The study examines parental mediation strategies of adolescent Internet use and their relation to adolescent age, concerns of online risks, online activities and risky behavior. Prior research on parental mediation is inconclusive about the effectiveness or superiority of any mediation strategy. Additionally, concerns and awareness of risks were not previously studied with respect to mediation strategies. A mixed-method study involved a survey of 357 adolescents ages 12–18 and 156 young adolescents ages 9–11, followed by semi-structured interviews with parents, teachers and adolescents. Various behavioral, attitudinal, perceptual and habitual aspects of adolescent Internet use and types of parental mediation were measured. Results illustrate how parents combine mediation strategies in a variety of formats and contexts. Restrictive mediation correlated with increased adolescent concerns, suggesting an internalization of risks and consequences of Internet use. However, restrictive mediation correlated with decreased Internet activity and increased risks, possibly due to lack of adolescent experience and autonomy in navigating online risks. Conversely, active mediation correlated with increased Internet activity of any sort, which enables experimentation and autonomy in using the Internet, and did not correlate with risk. The study compares mediation strategies with parenting styles and concludes that a balanced combination of restrictive and active mediation, arguably supplies the best grounds for adolescents to develop a strong set of norms and boundaries and be able to self-regulate their own Internet activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1897-1920
Number of pages24
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Volume26
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Autonomy
  • Education
  • Internet risks
  • Internet safety
  • Monitoring software
  • Parental mediation
  • Self-regulation

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