Parental Monitoring and Children's Internet Use: The Role of Information, Control, and Cues

Francisco Gallego, Ofer Malamud, Cristian Pop-Eleches

NBER Working Paper No. 23982
Issued in October 2017, Revised in August 2018
NBER Program(s):Children, Development Economics, Economics of Education

This paper explores how parental information and control can influence children’s internet use in Chile. We designed and implemented a set of randomized interventions whereby approximately 7700 parents were sent weekly SMSs messages with (i) specific information about their children’s internet use, and/or (ii) encouragement and assistance with the installation of parental control software. We separate the informational content from the cue associated with SMS messages and vary the strength of the cues by randomly assigning whether parents received messages in a predictable or unpredictable fashion. Our analysis yields three main findings. First, we find that messages providing parents with specific information affects parental behavior and reduces children’s internet use by 6-10 percent. Second, we do not find significant impacts from helping parents directly control their children’s internet access with parental control software. Third, the strength of the cue associated with receiving a message has a significant impact on internet use.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23982

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