Parents can put some of their fears to rest about the scary stuff they hear about kids and the Internet, suggests research presented at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting.
"Do not worry more," says Michele Ybarra, president and research director of the nonprofit research organization called Internet Solutions for Kids, based in San Clemente, California. Many adult assumptions, she says, are just plain wrong and aren't borne out by research.
One of the myths she says she's discovered about kids growing up with technology is that kids are exposed to a lot of sexual content online. She says the truth is that young people are much more likely to be exposed to sexual material through television and music than they are through websites and video games.
Her research suggests that exposure to sexual material is highest with TV, at 75%, followed by music, at 69%, she says. The Internet is the least common way kids are exposed to sexual material, at 16% to 25%.
Another myth she cites is that the online experiences of many young people — from cyberbullying to sexting — are negative. But she says most young people are not having negative experiences online. In her studies, 62% of young people say they have neither been harassed nor bullied online.
Ybarra presented data from a yet unpublished study, which will appear in the journal Pediatrics.
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