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Text, Twitter, Tweet… Limiting your teens online screen time

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:

5. Limiting online screen time isn’t always a consequence of bad behaviour: 55% of parents say they limit the amount of time their teen can go online, regardless of behavior. Moreover, parents of younger teens are especially likely to place limits on their teen’s internet use.

Whether or not parents frequently discuss acceptable conduct with their teen varies by a number of demographic characteristics. For example, mothers are more likely than fathers to report talking frequently with their teen about appropriate online and offline behavior.

There are also differences based on household income. Across the five types of conversations measured, parents who are less affluent are more likely than those from higher-income households to have these regular conversations. And Hispanic parents (51%) are more likely than white (32%) or black (32%) parents to frequently speak with their teen about their online behavior towards others.

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.

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

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