It is no secret that parents are the primary examples to their children for what is acceptable and what is not, and given the increased usage of social media, this example has become increasingly important. Adolescents are becoming more and more independent on social media sites, and their autonomy is becoming extremely important to them with relation to their parents. In tandem with this, parents are becoming more concerned about their children’s behavior and interactions on social networking sites.
A year-long study conducted in Flanders, Belgium from 2015-2016 analyzes the correlation between parent-child communication and the acceptance of parental authority when it comes to internet usage. The study surveyed 357 traditional families with children aged 13 to 18. Families were asked to fill out a questionnaire with one of their children in mind.
The study analyzes the different parental communication styles, the differences between mother and father communication, as well as the differences between children and adolescents when it comes to accepting parental authority. The study found that communication with parents declined with age and that children are more likely to push back against their parents if they feel as though their independence is being threatened.
The study then observes the correlation between acceptance of parental authority and time spent on social networking sites, as well as online contact with strangers. It was found that adolescents who reject conversations about internet use with their parents were more likely to spend more time on social media. Adolescents who felt threatened in their autonomy were less likely to listen to their parents’ rules regarding internet use.
Katrien Symons, Koen Ponnet, Ini Vanwesenbeeck, Michel Walrave & Joris Van Ouytsel (2020) Parent-Child Communication about Internet Use and Acceptance of Parental Authority, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 64:1, 1-19, DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2019.1681870