Devoted to the safety of children and teens online

2010 - 2011 Research on the Internet
and Cell Phone Behavior of Students

Each year surveys two to three thousand students in grades four through twelve from some of the many schools we visit. Students are all given the same survey and asked questions about their Internet activities and attitudes.

Though the sampling is not representative of the entire socio-economic or ethnic population of youth across the United States, it is nonetheless interesting data about the Internet behavior of a subset of youth. And while it may be anecdotal, our experience from working with children/teens in public schools is consistent with our experiences working with independent school children/teens. We have little reason to believe that the data for the questions below would vary significantly from those of a broader population of children/teens.

Additionally, readers will see that throughout this report, we speak about students at various grade levels, rather than children at various ages. There are two reasons for presenting the data in this way. Firstly, the data was collected in schools by grade level. Also, we are educators with more than fifty collective years experience working with children and teens. We understand that peer influences in grade levels within schools can impact behavior tremendously. Thus activities tend to spread much more across a grade level regardless of age of those students in a grade.

Below are the questions asked in the 2010-2011 survey. Each question is a link to the data corresponding to that question.

Survey Questions and Results

  1. Have you ever shared your password to any online account with a friend?
  2. Have you ever thought that someone who knew your password logged into one of your accounts without your permission?
  3. Do you have access to the Internet from your bedroom?
  4. Do your parents have some type of filter at home that prevents you from getting to some websites?
  5. Do you have a Facebook account?
          If yes, what are your privacy settings?
          If yes, have you friended one or both of your parents?
          If yes, about how many friends do you have in your account?
  6. Do you have a YouTube account?
  7. Have you ever posted a video of yourself or your friends on YouTube?
  8. Have you ever taken a survey or quiz online that asked for personal information and to which you gave real information rather than fake information?
  9. Do you have friends online that you have never met in person? (Include Gaming.)
  10. During the last few months, have you felt uncomfortable, hurt or scared online from something that you saw, something that happened to you or something someone said to you?
          If yes, what made you feel uncomfortable online?
          If yes, did you tell an adult what happened?
  11. Do you have a cell phone? If yes:
          Have you ever received offensive or inappropriate photos or videos?
          Have you ever received offensive, harassing or hurtful text messages?
          Have you ever received text advertising?
          Have you ever received a prank/joke call?
  12. Do you know any of your parent's current passwords? Do they know yours?
  13. Has anyone ever posted something on a website about you that was embarrassing, threatening, or demeaning (a "put down")?
  14. Have you ever posted something on a website about someone else that was embarrassing, threatening, or demeaning (a "put down")?
  15. Have you ever been bullied on the Internet or on your cell phone?
  16. Have you ever bullied anyone else on the Internet or through a cell phone?
  17. Do your parents have rules for your Internet use?
  18. Students were asked how much they agreed with the statement "my parents know what I do, where I go, and who I talk to online."
  19. Conclusion


Internet surveys were collected from 2576 students in fourth through twelfth grade, who attended independent schools located in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia. 36% attended urban schools, 28% attended suburban schools, and 36% attended rural schools.

Teachers distributed paper surveys between September 2010 and February 2011. Students were told that the surveys were to be anonymous and not to write their name on the survey. Teachers were instructed to have a student collect the completed surveys and put them into envelopes. The only personal information gathered was gender, age and grade level. In all reported data, "N" refers to sample size. Sample size varied because not every student answered every question. Students were asked to leave a question blank if they didn't understand it or were not sure how to answer it.