Parents' and Youths' Solicitation and Disclosure of Information in Today's Digital Age
Keywords:parental monitoring, technology, substance initiation, parent–child communication
Extensive research has identified parental monitoring to be a protective factor for youth. Parental monitoring includes parents’ solicitation of information from their child and the child’s voluntary disclosure of information. In today’s digital society, parental monitoring can occur using technology, such as text messaging, email, and social networking sites. The current study describes parents’ and youths’ communication technology use explicitly to solicit and share information with each other in a sample of 56 parent–youth dyads from the same family (youth were 13 to 25 years old). We also examined associations between in-person parental monitoring, parental monitoring using technology, parental knowledge, and youth substance use initiation. Results revealed great variability in frequency of parental monitoring using technology, with a subgroup of parents and youth reporting doing these behaviors very frequently. Parental monitoring using technology was not associated with greater parental knowledge or youth substance use initiation after controlling for youth age group (adolescent or emerging adult) and gender composition of dyads. However, in-person communication between youth and parents remained an important variable and was positively associated with parental knowledge. Youth workers could empower parents to focus on in-person communication, and not rely solely on communication using technology.
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