Screen Safety: Survey Reveals Parental Fears and Strategies for Children's Online Safety

Screen Safety Survey

In an era when digital connectivity has become a staple of everyday life, social media’s increasing threat to children has prompted urgent action.

The Surgeon General recently called on Congress to mandate labeling on social media apps, akin to the warnings on cigarettes and alcohol, to address these concerns. This heightened awareness has spurred parents to take more active roles in monitoring their children’s online activities.

A recent survey conducted by HostingAdvice involving 3,000 parents sheds light on the extent of parental controls on the websites and apps their children access. The findings reveal a spectrum of practices and concerns, reflecting the diverse approaches parents take to safeguard their children’s online experiences.

Parental Monitoring Practices

According to the survey, nearly half of parents (48%) actively control the websites and social media sites their children visit. Among these, 36% said they monitor their children’s online habits daily, showcasing a high level of vigilance.

The methods parents use to monitor or control their children’s internet usage vary, with some parents employing multiple methods:

  • Regularly checking browser history: 33% of parents surveyed said they routinely check their children’s browser history to stay informed about their online activities.
  • Parental control software: 25% said they use parental control software to restrict access to inappropriate content and monitor usage.
  • Discussions on online behavior: 22% of parents said they sit down with their children to discuss online behavior and instill safe internet practices.
  • Occasional restrictions: 18% said they occasionally restrict online access to ensure their children stay within safe digital boundaries.

Interestingly, the survey highlights significant geographic disparities in parental control practices. For instance, 80% of parents in South Dakota surveyed said they actively control what their children access online. In contrast, only 30% of parents in Nebraska said they exercise similar levels of control.

Primary Concerns About Social Media Use

HostingAdvice also surveyed parents about their primary concerns regarding their children’s social media use:

  • Exposure to inappropriate content: 44% of parents surveyed said they are most concerned about their children being exposed to inappropriate content online.
  • Potential for cyberbullying: 27% cited cyberbullying as their primary concern, highlighting the pervasive nature of this issue when it comes to online interactions.
  • Health implications of screentime: 17% of parents said they worry about the health implications of significant screentime, including its impact on physical and mental well-being.
  • Data security: 11% said they have concerns about the sharing of their children’s data, underscoring the importance of privacy in the digital age.

The survey results reveal a range of concerns, reflecting the multifaceted nature of digital safety.

Age Appropriateness for Social Media Use

The survey also explored parents’ views on the appropriate age for children to have their own social media accounts. The responses reflect a spectrum of opinions on this matter:

  • 45% of parents surveyed believe it is acceptable for children to start using social media at age 13 or older.
  • A more conservative 37% of parents said 16 or older is a more sensible age for children to engage with social media.
  • 13% of parents surveyed think it is okay for children to start using social media from age 10.

The survey results demonstrate that parents are more likely to give their children access to social media when they are in their teens.

Chart of the percentage of parents in each state who monitor their children’s online habits

Concluding Thoughts

“As more information has come out about social media and how it impacts the emotional and mental well-being of our youth, I think it has become clear that more needs to be done. However, it can be tricky to determine exactly what should be done, especially given the fact that each child is likely to interact with social media differently,” said HostingAdvice consumer technology expert Christian de Looper.

Parents are increasingly aware of the potential dangers posed by social media, but awareness alone isn’t enough. The survey highlights the need for comprehensive strategies involving parents, educators, and policymakers to create a safe online environment for children.

“I think it’s completely reasonable to raise age limits on social media and for there to be some kind of warning label. Additionally, it’s important parents ensure that their children, especially young teens, are interacting with social media in a healthy way, and for limited periods of time,” said Christian.


We selected 3,000 respondents from a geographically representative online panel of double opt-in members. This selection was further tailored to meet the precise criteria required for each unique survey.

Throughout the survey, we designed questions to carefully screen and authenticate respondents, guaranteeing the survey’s alignment with the ideal participants.

To ensure the integrity of our data collection, we employed an array of data quality methods. Alongside conventional measures such as digital fingerprinting, bot checks, geo-verification, and speeding detection, each response underwent a thorough manual review to ensure quality and contextual accuracy.

Our commitment extended to open-ended responses, subjecting them to scrutiny and plagiarism detection.