Social Network Sites Linked to Closer Parent-Child Relationships
Most adolescents' worst nightmare is the moment when their parents join Facebook. Some even fear that their life is over as soon as their parents “friend” them. But according to a study in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking adolescents who are connected with their parents through social network sites (SNS) have closer relationships with them in real life.
- Adolescents who add their parents as friends on SNS have a closer relationship with their parents in real life and are more prosocial towards others.
- In contrast, adolescents who are not friends with their parents on SNS are more aggressive, depressed, and feel less connected to their parents.
- Although it is yet uncertain what causes what, parents could take into account that they can use SNS as a tool to strengthen the relationship with their child.
Is parents “friending” their child on SNS related to positive behavioral outcomes for adolescents?
491 12- to 17-year olds and their parents (mean age: 14 years); 53% girls; primarily European-American.
The adolescents and their parents completed a questionnaire at home about their SNS use, feelings of connection and behavioral outcomes (e.g., prosocial behavior and aggression).
Facts and findings
- Adolescents who added their parents as friends on SNS felt more connected to their parents in real life.
- An explanation for this finding is that through SNS parents get an insight into their child’s life (i.e. know what they are going through) and this can help parents to feel more connected to their child.
- Another possible explanation for this finding is that adolescents who have a close relationship with their parents are more inclined to friend their parents on SNS.
- Adolescents who engaged with their parents through SNS were also more prosocial to others.
- In contrast, adolescents who were not friends with their parents on SNS reported higher levels of aggression, depression, and felt less connected to their parents in real life.
- Remarkable fact: While half of the adolescents who are on SNS are friends with their parents, less than 20% connects with their parents on a daily basis.
- Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (parents “friending” their child) and effect (behavioral outcomes). The results only show that parents “friending” their child on SNS is associated with positive behavioral outcomes for adolescents and cannot say anything about what causes what.