(USA TODAY) -- More than a quarter of parents use a device to track or monitor their kids' online activity, finds a survey from Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey.
It's far more than the percentage of teens — 15% — who think their parents are tracking or monitoring what they do online.
Whether all that snooping is effective seems unclear. Only 30% of teens who responded to the survey said their parents were "extremely" aware or "very aware" of what they do online. By comparison, 52% of parents believed they were very aware of their kids' web activity.
"There’s a pretty big difference between parents who say they know and what kids say parents know," said Michael Robb, director of research for Common Sense Media.
Options for tracking kids' online activities vary from tools for your router capable of tracking the websites users visit to apps letting you review your child's smartphone call logs and text messages.
Devorah Heitner, author of the book Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) In Their Digital World, suggests mentoring kids about best online practices instead of monitoring. If parents do choose to monitor, they should talk with their kids first.
"You have to really ask yourself what you think you’re going to learn by covertly monitoring your kid," she said. "What’s your plan of action if you see something that concerns you?"
As smartphones and social media continue to infiltrate our daily lives, questions have surfaced over when it's too young for kids to participate.
YouTube has been criticized for how it filters content following reports parents were able to find inappropriate videos on its YouTube Kids app.
Earlier this month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said "bad actors" were exploiting YouTube's system.
Last week Facebook rolled out Messenger Kids, a version of its messaging app for the under-13 crowd. The app allows younger kids to have their own experience on Messenger, but controlled and monitored through their parents' account.
Facebook isn't the biggest worry for parents, however. Other findings from the survey:
- Snapchat is the app that causes the most anxiety for parents. The survey found 29% said the messaging apps makes them most nervous, followed by Facebook at 16%.
- Teens don't like Facebook as much as Snapchat or Instagram. More than three-quarters of teens said they use both messaging apps, but only 49% said they use Facebook, while 42% said they use Twitter.
Robb said Common Sense Media plans to partner with Survey Monkey on future online polls because the pace of technology is so rapid. "These surveys will be a quicker way to take the pulse of parents and teens."
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