Nearly half of parents keep tabs on at least one of their kid’s social media passwords and email accounts, according to a new survey.

A Pew Research Center survey of parents of 13- to 17-year-olds finds that today’s parents take a wide range of actions to monitor their teen’s online lives and to encourage their child to use technology in an appropriate and responsible manner.

Moreover, digital technology has become so central to teens’ lives that a significant share of parents now employ a new tool to enforce family rules: “digitally grounding” misbehaving kids. Some 65% of parents have taken their teen’s cellphone or internet privileges away as a punishment.

But restrictions to screen time are not always consequences of bad behavior, parents often have rules in place about how often and when their teen can go online. Some 55% of parents say they limit the amount of time or times of day their teen can be online.

When it comes to monitoring their child’s digital use and interactions, parents tend to take a hands-on approach to monitoring what their children do:
•61% of parents say they have ever checked which websites their teen visits.
•60% have ever checked their teen’s social media profiles.
•56% have ever friended or followed their teen on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media platform.
•48% have ever looked through their teen’s phone call records or text messages.

In addition, nearly half (48%) of parents know the password to their teen’s email account, while 43% know the password to their teen’s cellphone and 35% know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts.

But even as parents use a number of these hands-on methods to monitor their teen, they are relatively less likely to use technology-based tools to monitor, block or track their teen. This is a consistent pattern that has also emerged in previous Pew Research Center surveys of technology use by parents and teens. For instance, the new survey results show:
•39% of parents report using parental controls for blocking, filtering or monitoring their teen’s online activities.
•16% use parental controls to restrict their teen’s use of his or her cellphone.
•16% use monitoring tools on their teen’s cellphone to track their location.

In addition to taking a range of steps to check up on their teen’s online behavior, the vast majority of parents also try to take a proactive approach to preventing problems by speaking with their teen about what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable online behavior. Specifically:
•94% of parents say they have ever talked with their teen about what is appropriate for them to share online, with 40% doing so frequently.
•95% have ever talked with their teen about appropriate content for them to view online, with 39% doing so frequently.
•95% have ever talked with their teen about appropriate media to consume (such as TV, music, books, magazines or other media), with 36% doing so frequently.
•92% of parents have ever spoken with their teen about their online behavior towards others, with 36% doing so frequently.

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