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Parents Think They Know What Their Teens Are Doing Online, But Teens Aren’t So Sure

New research by Common Sense and Survey Monkey reveals an interesting disparity between parents and their teenagers.


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If there’s anything we know about teens, it’s that they’re all about social media. From Facebook to Snapchat, teenagers are online in more ways than parents may realize.

A new survey shows a pretty big disparity between parents and teens when it comes to social media. Parents think they know what their kids are doing on social media but teens say they really don’t, according to new research from Common Sense and SurveyMonkey. While 52 percent of parents with teens ages 14-17 say they are extremely or very aware of what their kids do online, just 30 percent of teens say their parents are that in tune to their online activity.

Those numbers seem to show that parents are naive about how their teens spends their  time, the  survey shows that’s not necessarily the case. Parents are tracking their kids virtual moves way more than teens  realize. Twenty-six percent of parents use a tracking or monitoring device or service to keep an eye on their teen’s online actions, but only 15 percent of their kids think their parents are watching.

When it comes to connecting online, 79 percent of teens with Facebook accounts are friends with their parents on the platform. That’s a lot more than Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter (46, 27 and 18 percent respectively). It might be no surprise then that Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular platforms for teens (77 percent of them use each), while only 49 percent use Facebook and 42 percent use Twitter.

It’s easier to keep an eye on things if you’re well-versed in these social media platforms yourself, though. Older parents (ages 55 and up) are less likely to say they’re extremely aware of their teenager’s online activity (46 percent).

Furthermore, this lack of visibility makes parents nervous when it comes to Snapchat; 29 percent of them worry most about how their teen uses the photo app, significantly more than Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, 20 percent of surveyed parents say they’re not nervous at all about their teen’s online activity.

If that sounds naive  to you (there’s always something to worry about as a parent, right?), this may ease your concerns: teens are more honest with their parents about their online activity and presence than parents believe. Only 27 percent of teen users admitted to having online accounts, while 34 percent of parents believe their teens have them.

 

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