The Pew Research Center came out with a new article yesterday, “Parents, Teens and Digital Monitoring,” explaining the different ways that parents monitor their teens’ digital behavior – with research showing that the use of parental control software seems to be less common than it used to be. The findings were based on a national survey of parents of teens ages 13 to 17, conducted Sept. 25-Oct. 9, 2014, and Feb. 10-March 16, 2015.

It does take some work to find the right balance for your family – allowing children to have the freedom to explore, while at the same time, providing enough parental guidance to make sure they don’t get themselves into unsafe situations and to have a plan in place if they do.


As students step up and out onto the Internet, the district wants to ensure that they understand the need to think before they post – to treat others with respect, to build and maintain a positive digital footprint, to protect their online privacy and the privacy of others, and to respect intellectual property boundaries – but it’s also important to set some boundaries and continue having conversations about these topics at home.

According to PEW survey results, when it comes to monitoring their children’s digital use and interactions, parents tend to take a hands-on approach to monitoring what their children do:

Pew Research Infographic

Most parents check what their teen does online and on social media and talk with them about acceptable online behavior.

The survey results are encouraging, as a hands-on approach is likely to be more effective. Please take some time to read the article, especially if you are looking for ways as parents to talk to your teens about acceptable online behavior and creating a positive digital footprint.

Parents can play a key role in their child’s safe and responsible use of social media. In addition to findings by PEW, we also recommend a lesson we learned from local social media expert and founder of Above the Fray, Thomas Dodson, on the importance of keeping communication open between parent and child. Thomas recommends resisting the knee-jerk temptation to demand their child hand over their cell phone for an impromptu inspection. Instead, Thomas recommends telling a child he/she has 24 hours to remove any inappropriate messaging or materials before sharing with the parent. We liked that this approach promotes children and parents sharing the responsibility and having open discussions on what is and isn’t appropriate online.


Too often when parents take away a child’s access to social media, the child simply finds another way to access it. (Create a new account, use an app that hides apps, buy a “burner” phone or borrow one from others.)

Again, we can’t stress enough the importance of parents guiding their children across the digital highway. As always, if you have something to add to this conversation or another article to share, please let us know in comments below.