Ofer Malamud; Cristian Pop-Eleches
Abstract: This paper explores how asymmetric information between parents and children and direct parental controls 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 reduce children’s internet use by 6‐10 percent and help parents mitigate the problem of asymmetric information in the household. Second, we do not find significant impacts from helping parents directly control their children’s Internet access with parental control software. Third, the strength or salience of the cue associated with receiving a message has an independent impact on internet use.