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Teens–Accept the Dad Friend Request and Improve Your Relationship

We know that traditional media can be an integral part of family life – watching television together, sharing the paper on a Sunday, having the radio on in the background – but less is known about what happens when families connect using new forms of media, like Facebook and Twitter. Researchers from Brigham Young University in Utah, United States, recently looked at outcomes when adolescents network with their parents on social media. The conclusion? Stronger feelings of connection, leading to more positive outcomes for the adolescent.

In the study led by Dr Sarah Coyne and published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 491 families with children between the ages of 11 and 17 who used social media were  questioned about the frequency of their social media use, feelings of connection to family and parents, depression and anxiety behaviours, and aggressive behaviours.

Around half the adolescents were connected to their parents on social media, with less than 20% reporting daily interaction with parents. But the joint use was associated with heightened connectivity between adolescents and their parents.

Increased feelings of connection and positive feelings towards the family were seen when parents and adolescents showed support to each other by making positive comments on status updates or pictures. Also, when parents had access to their adolescent’s personal preferences and social groups, a heightened sense of connection was felt. And diminished aggression and problem behaviours were associated with the increased connection. Conversely, when teens were involved in a high level of social networking not with a parent, increased delinquency and aggression were noted, along with a decrease in the parent-child connection - in part, this suggested that too much social media use was detrimental.

The researchers suggest that sharing social media interaction is just one tool that parents can use to connect with their adolescent. They caution that parents’ careful and respectful use of social networking sites, not “over-commenting” or using social media “to control their teen’s social life and experience”,  may be good for adolescents.

They conclude, "Indeed, it may just be that if parents ‘friend' their teenager on social networking sites, it may be one way to increase the possibility that they will really 'connect' not only in the virtual but also in the real world."

Image from freedigitalphotos.net