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Text, Twitter, Tweet… how modern parents monitor their teen’s digital

Today’s parents must navigate how, when and to what extent they oversee their teens’ online and mobile activities. Knowing when to step back and when to take a more hands-on approach is challenging.

A new US report from the Pew Research Center on parents of 13 to 17-year-olds finds that parents take a wide range of actions to monitor their teen’s digital life and to encourage their child to use technology in an appropriate and responsible manner.

Here are six takeaways from the report:

1. Parents are keeping a close eye on their teen’s digital life, but few do so by tech-based means. Roughly six-in-ten parents say they have either checked which websites their teen has visited or looked at their teen’s social media profile. And about half say they have looked through their teen’s phone call records or messages. But few parents are utilising more technical measures – such as parental controls or location tracking tools – to monitor their teen.

Teens are increasingly using mobile technologies to communicate, share and go online.

While parental monitoring by technological means is somewhat less common, some 39% of parents say they turn to parental controls or other technological tools to block, filter or monitor their teen’s online activities. And even fewer parents report using parental controls to restrict their teen’s use of his or her mobile phone (16%) or using monitoring tools on their teen’s mobile phone to track his or her location (16%).

In total, 84% of parents report taking at least one of these six steps to monitor or restrict their child’s online activities, while 16% indicate that they have not taken any of these actions with their teen.


Monica Anderson is a research associate focusing on internet, science and technology at Pew Research Center.

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