WASHINGTON, DC – A new survey commissioned by Cable in the Classroom (CIC) and conducted by Harris Interactive says nine of ten parents think it’s very important or important that their children learn about the three elements of digital citizenship: Internet safety and security (93%), ethical and responsible online behavior (93%), and critical thinking (87%).

Digital citizenship is a positive and proactive approach to helping children use digital tools safely and effectively, bringing together Internet safety and security with digital literacy, ethical behavior and civic engagement.

The Parent Views on Digital Citizenship survey was conducted online November 8–15, 2012, among 999 U.S. parents of children 8–18 years old who are in grades 3–12.  Harris Interactive, a leading market research firm with more than 25 years’ experience studying issues surrounding youth and parenting, was commissioned by Cable in the Classroom to conduct the survey of U.S. parents in order to better understand their views and knowledge concerning digital citizenship for themselves and their children.

Other key findings:

  • Eight in ten parents (79%) would like to have more information and guidanceabout one or more of the elements of digital citizenship.
  • Websites and videos (35%) are the most common sources of information about digital citizenship.  Government agencies are more common sources of information for parents of children in middle (18%) and high (19%) school than for parents of children in elementary (9%) school.
  • Parents of elementary and middle school students are most concerned with their child learning the principles of Internet safety and security, compared to other aspects of digital citizenship; 74% say that it is very important that their child learns about Internet safety and security, compared to 68% who say this about ethical and responsible online behavior and 58% who say this about critical thinking. Parents of high school freshmen and sophomores are more likely than those of juniors and seniors to say that it is very important that their child learns about ethical and responsible online behavior (73% vs. 57%).
  • Parents who are more active on the Internet are also more active when it comes to monitoring their child’s online behaviors. Parents who spend at least 6 hours per week on the Internet are more likely than those who spend 5 hours or less to have taken steps to ensure their child learns to be a good digital citizen (93% vs. 82%).
  • Parents of elementary (90%) and middle school (96%)  students are more likely than parents of high school (83%) students to believe that schools have a lot or some responsibility for teaching digital citizenship.

“For almost twenty years, CIC has focused on educating kids to be safe, smart and savvy users of media and technology. These results reinforce for us the importance of digital citizenship education,” said Frank Gallagher, Executive Director of CIC.  “While we have made headway in teaching about media literacy and digital citizenship, there is still much work to be done to make sure parents, teachers, and schools have the information and teaching resources they need.” 

In a separate poll of educators conducted by CIC, more than half felt that schools emphasize teaching students about digital citizenship less than they should, and that their schools need less help in Internet safety and security, but more help in the areas of ethics and responsibility, and media and information literacy. Less than 40 percent of educators felt very well prepared to teach digital citizenship.

To help parents, educators and caregivers learn more, CIC will debut a set of free video modules for teaching digital citizenship later this year.

The research findings were released in a webinar on February 7th, which can be accessed at www.ciconline.org/2012survey.

Survey Methodology

The Parent Views on Digital Citizenship survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Cable in the Classroom. Interviews took place between November 8 – 15, 2012, among 999 parents of children 8-18 years old who are in grades 3 – 12; this included 297 elementary school parents, 305 middle school parents and 397 high school parents. Figures for age, sex, geographic region, household income and race/ethnicity were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.