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Lots To Be Thankful for When It Comes to Tech Use

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There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about technology use.

A new study, Online Safety: Across Generations, released last week by the Family Online Safety Institute ( FOSI ) examines the online attitudes of parents and seniors. It finds that 57% of parents believe technology has improved communication in their family.

“Technology has the power to bring families together across generations,” according to the FOSI study, which was conducted by Hart Research Associates and made possible by Comcast Innovation Fund and Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program.

Among their findings:

  • Parents of connected kids are nearly twice as likely to feel that technology and the Internet have made their job as a parent easier than harder.

  • Parents think their child’s use of technology has had a positive impact on many areas of their child’s life. Parents report that being online helps their child build technology skills, research information, foster career skills, life skills, and creativity, and enhances performance in school.

  • Parents are slightly more likely to think the potential benefits of their child having a smartphone outweigh the potential harms (36% benefits vs. 31% harms), but a sizeable number of parents think the potential harms of their child having a social media account outweigh the potential benefits (52% harms vs. 20% benefits).

  • Parental concern about online content (64%) outweighs concerns about time spent online (32%).

  • Finally, parents look to schools as information sources for how to manage their child’s tech use. (Good reason to check out this site for our comprehensive Cyber Civics program for middle school!).

FOSI research

(Image courtesy of

According to the report, “today’s parents are the first generation to be confronted with technology use by their parents and elderly relatives, as well as their children, and are in uncharted territory.” As seniors learn how to use technology, many are turning to their adult children (and sometimes their grandchildren) to get help. But in more good news, even a majority of seniors say technology has had a positive effect on their lives.

Despite the challenges that technology presents, many of which are documented daily, the majority of parents think technology has improved communication among their family members. Nearly eight in ten parents with living parents or elderly relatives say these relatives use text messaging, e-mail, or social media to communicate with them. And both parents and seniors are talking to their children and grandchildren about the importance of being safe online.

Good news all the way around. We're grateful for that.

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