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Parental Monitoring and Children's Internet Use: The Role of Information, Control, and Cues (WP-20-19)

Francisco Gallego, Ofer Malamud, and Cristian Pop-Eleches

This paper explores the role of parental information and control on children’s internet use in Chile. The researchers designed and implemented a randomized experiment whereby 7700 parents were sent weekly SMS messages that (i) provided specific information about their children’s internet use, and/or (ii) offered assistance with the installation of parental control software. They find that providing parents with specific information changes parenting behavior and reduces children’s internet use by 6–10%. Evidence from heterogeneity analysis and machine learning algorithms suggest that this information substitutes for the presence of parents at home and complements parents’ capacity to be involved in their children’s lives. The authors do not find significant impacts from helping parents directly control their children’s internet access with parental control software. In addition, they find that the strength of the cue associated with receiving a message has a significant impact on internet use.

This paper has been published in the Journal of Public Economics.

Francisco Gallego, Associate Professor, Economics Department, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Ofer Malamud, Associate Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Cristian Pop-Eleches, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

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