Social media has taken over the modern day teenager’s life. This pervasive adoption of technology has heightened the level of Internet protection education, but also the awareness that parents need to be involved with their child’s digital behavior. While parents have every right to be involved in the multifaceted lives of their teens, where does this line of privacy be drawn?

A new study by the Pew Research Center investigated how today’s parents are monitor their teen’s digital lives and how they try to persuade their children to use technology and social media responsibly.

Here were some of the key findings.

  • 61% of parents check which websites their teen visited.
  • 60% of parents check their teen’s social profiles.
  • 48% of parents looked through their teen’s phone calls and messages.

While approximately half of the parents in the survey know the password to their teen’s email account, 43% know the password to their teen’s cell phone and 35% know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts.

Chart by Pew Research Center

Chart by Pew Research Center

Online privacy and activity has become a substantial part of teenager life where Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook are more viable resources to understanding their life than their diaries and conversations with them.

According to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for the Digital Future stated that 78% of millennials have “expressed a wish for privacy, compared to 59% of older Internet users.” This data counteracts that of Pew Research. Are parents snooping to find out more about their child’s life or are teenagers willingly giving up that information?

Social media has become the public, accessible diary for most, and teenagers are adjusting their privacy settings accordingly. Ian Miller, a Doctoral student on the online sharing at the University of Toronto spoke about hiding different aspects of their digital lives.

“The kind of privacy adolescents want is the same kind of privacy that they have always wanted,” he says. “Instead of being played off against the government or a corporation, it’s being played off against their parents. They don’t care if Facebook knows their religion, but they do care if their parents find out about their sex life.”

As time progresses and social media advances, there are a lot of changes to which teenagers quickly adapt; more adolescents are moving from Facebook and Twitter and over to Snapchat and Whisper, apps that prioritize anonymity and privacy.

Teenagers are in a space where their lives are inherently private, but does it make sense that they should keep that from the few people who can help them?

(Photo Credit: Jason Howie / Flickr)

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