With the development of electronic technology and forms of communication such as the Internet, it has become increasing difficult for parents to identify and mitigate the new risks to which their adolescent children are exposed. In this article, we compare the ways parents and adolescents living in urban areas use the Internet with those of their counterparts who live in rural areas. We based this comparison on data obtained from a survey of Internet use in Taiwan in 2013. The survey included 1079 junior high school students and 688 parents who lived in urban areas and 838 students and 729 parents who lived in rural areas. We found that parents living in rural areas had lower levels of Internet skills and intervened less in their children’s use of the Internet when compared with parents living in urban areas. We also found that, compared with their urban counterparts, adolescents who live in rural areas have lower levels of Internet literacy but a higher frequency of Internet use and they also engage in riskier online behaviours such as online game playing, from which they more often report harmful effects such as the theft of passwords or money. Our multivariate analysis of the data showed that increased levels of adolescents’ online gaming time and lower levels of parental restrictive mediation were associated with higher levels of harm such as the theft of passwords and money stolen online. We also found that lower levels of adolescents’ Internet literacy and lower levels of parental monitoring activity were associated with increases in adolescents’ cyberbullying victimisation. Overall, we found a clear difference between rural and urban parents and adolescents with both rural parents and their children being less experienced and knowledgeable of the risks associated with use of the Internet. Rural children are exposed to more risk and experience more harm.
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