Parents Admit to Social Media Spying on Their Teen and Tween Children

Two thirds (67 percent) of parents say monitoring their children’s media use is more important than respecting their privacy, according to a report released Tuesday by Common Sense Media. More than two in five parents (41 percent) say they check their children’s devices and social media accounts “always” or “most of the time.”

The report, “The Common Sense Census: Plugged-In Parents of Tweens and Teens” — a collaboration with the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University — examined the screen time for children ages 8-18, as well as their parents.

Some other key findings include:

  • Parents of tweens and teens say they spend more than nine hours a day with screen media;
  • 78 percent of those parents say they believe they are good media and technology role models for their children;
  • Many parents are concerned about their children’s social media use and other online activities — for example, they worry that their children may become addicted to technology (56 percent) and say they believe that technology use negatively impacts their children’s sleep (34 percent);
  • Fifty percent of parents indicated they thought that using social media hurts children’s physical activity;
  • Hispanic/Latino parents tend to be more aware and more concerned, and they say they manage their children’s media use more than white or African American parents; and
  • 94 percent have positive attitudes about the role of technology in their children’s education.

For the study, 1,786 parents of children ages 8-18 were interviewed between July 8 and July 25, 2016. The project was directed by Michael Robb, director of research at Common Sense, and Alexis R. Lauricella, associated director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University, with oversight from Ellen Wartella, director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern.

Common Sense Media is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology, according to its website. The organization provides nonpartisan information and advice to parents, teachers and policymakers.

The full report is available on this Common Sense website.

About the Author

Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at [email protected].