159582697I’m terrified of my child’s future social media use. I’m that mom sending my stepdaughter stories of horrific things that happen to girls who communicate with strangers on the Internet. That’s probably not a great tactic – but I am genuinely terrified of the access that total strangers have to children. I just am.

With Facebook easing up on their privacy terms for children and Instagram offering “photo maps” which actually map the location where pictures are taken – I don’t think I’m being too paranoid. Online access for our children is dangerous – and it just seems to be getting more and more so.

A new survey was done to see just how scared parents were of their child’s Internet use. Researchers analyzed data from over 1,000 parents who were asked how worried they were about five different types of online dangers; their children meeting someone who means to do harm, being exposed to pornographic content, being exposed to violent content, being a victim of online bullying and bullying another child online. A parent’s race, income and political views seem to affect how concerned they are:

White parents were the least concerned about all online safety issues, the researchers found. Asian and Hispanic parents were more likely to be concerned about all online safety issues. Black parents were more concerned than white parents about their children meeting harmful strangers or being exposed to pornography.

The study, published recently in the journal Policy & Internet, also found that urban parents tended to be more concerned about online threats to their children than suburban or rural parents. In addition, college-educated parents had lower levels of fear than those with less education.

Who knows why this is the case. I’m assuming that parents in urban areas are exposed to more perceived dangers than those in rural areas – but that’s just a guess.

I think everyone should be concerned. It’s just become added to the list of “talks” we have to have with our kids; sex, drugs, bullying, strangers and now the Internet. The Internet disturbs me because of its potential to bring people you don’t know at all into contact with your child. To me, that’s tantamount to having them in my home. That concerns me.

(photo: Getty Images)