Social Networking Keeps Families Connected
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2013 Jul 17
A new study finds that teens who are connected through platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, tend to have better relationships with their parents, even as the window to their lives has essentially been opened.
Researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, surveyed 491 teens and their parents about their use of social networking, feelings about connection, and behavioral outcomes. They also looked into delinquency, depression, eating disorders, aggression in relationships, and positive behaviors towards others, which were measured by asking the teens if they agreed with phrases, such as "I really enjoy doing small favors for my family."
They found that teens who stayed connected felt more connected to their parents in real life. Half of the teens said they used social networking to keep in touch with their parents, with 16 percent saying that they interacted with their parents every day.
Those teens who interacted every day were also the ones who felt the most connected to their parents. All of the teens who stayed connected were also less likely to feel depressed, delinquent, and aggressive; and more likely to be kind and thoughtful toward others.
Dr. Sarah Coyne, lead author of the study, notes that this positive interaction could all just be a result of parent-teen relationships that are already positive, and that social networks just provide another vehicle with which to show that affection.
"Parents who are more connected to their teens in general want to keep that connection elsewhere. I think it's a bit of both — it's bi-directional," she said. "As we have experiences in new media, it strengthens bonds that are already there. It's kind of a rich-get-richer type of thing and cementing what's already there."