While the number frankly strikes me as being still too low, it’s encouraging to note that over half of parents do not appear to have their heads totally buried in a smelly orifice, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, which found that 60% of respondents with children ages 13-17 have checked their teens’ social media profiles to make sure they’re not doing something ill-advised and teenagery.
Additionally, 56% of parents have actually gone to the lengths of friending or following their teens on Facebook, Twitter, or another social media platform, while 61% said they have checked which Web sites their teen visits, and 48% have looked through their call records or text messages.
A bit more intrusively, 48% said they have the password to their child’s email account, 43% have the password to their phone and 35% know the password to a social media account. On a slightly Orwellian note, 16% use monitoring tools on their teens’ phones to track their location.
However, when it comes to preemptive management of online behavior, most parents opt for good old-fashioned face-to-face communication, rather than relying on technical tools to attempt to control their teens’ activity. While 94% of parents said they have talked with their teen about what is appropriate to share online, and 95% have discussed what is appropriate media to consume, just 39% said they have used parental controls to block, filter, or monitor what their teens do online, and only 16% have used parental control on their teens’ phones.
By the same token, the “nuclear option” – digital grounding – is still very popular, with 65% of parents saying they have taken away their teens’ phone or Internet access as punishment. Additionally, 55% of parents surveyed said they impose time limits on their teens’ Internet activity (all the time, not as a punishment).