Objective: This study investigated two research questions. First, how do parents monitor and regulate adolescent use of social media? Second, how do parental monitoring practices vary by adolescent and parent gender?. Background: Smart phones and Internet access are nearly universal among U.S. adolescents, yet most past research on online parental monitoring examined Internet use generally without a focus on social media. Method: Data were obtained in 2019 with a web survey with items addressing parent and adolescent use of social media, parental monitoring of social media use, and parents' perceptions of the impact of social media on adolescents. Respondents were a state-representative sample of 389 Pennsylvania parents with an adolescent aged 12 to 17 years in their household. Results: Mothers more frequently talked with their adolescent children about social media than fathers, and mothers were more likely to report consequences for breaking household rules about social media use. Mothers used more intrusive monitoring strategies than fathers. Parents were more likely to ask daughters about social media use than sons. Parents monitored social media use of opposite gender adolescents less frequently. Conclusions: Results suggest strong differences in social media monitoring by parent and adolescent gender but in directions that do not necessarily align with the parental monitoring literature more broadly. Heavy use of more intrusive practices in the sample may indicate problems with trust or parental concern with adolescent self-disclosure.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)