Teens Running Circles Around Parents on Social Media
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.
- 2012 Jun 25
It seems to be an eternal truth: parents always try to monitor their teens to prevent them from doing stupid, self-destructive things, and the teens always succeed in evading them. The latest iteration is occurring online, with social media, where the kids frolicking with risk-taking abandon right under the noses of their elders.
That’s according to a new survey from McAfee titled “The Digital Divide: How the Online Behavior of Teens is Getting Past Parents.” First of all, teens are spending way more time online than their parents suspect -- five hours a day versus two hours a day, respectively. The same is true of social media in particular: while 48% of parents think their teens check social media daily, the actual proportion is 60%. Just 22% of parents think their teens check social media “constantly,” versus 41% actually doing so.
Parents are trying to supervise teens’ social media use, with 49% installing parental controls and 44.3% saying they know their teens’ passwords. But teens are using a variety of strategies to evade parental supervision, and it seems to be working, judging by the fact that many parents aren’t even aware of what’s going on. Overall 71% of teens say they hide their online activity from their parents, while only 56% of parents are aware of this.
In terms of specific strategies, 53.3% of teens say they clear their browser history, while just 17.5% of parents are aware they’re doing this. 45.9% of teens say they minimize browsers when their parents are around, while just 16.6% of parents are aware this is happening. 18.9% of teens delete inappropriate videos, while just 5.4% of parents have caught on to this. 19.9% of teens manipulate privacy settings to block their parents, with just 8.1% of parents noticing. 21.3% of teens use their phone to access social media, while just 9.7% of parents realize this. And of course there’s always good, old-fashioned lying, with 22.9% of teens resorting to this time-honored strategy, while just 10.5% of parents are aware they’re being lied to.