Prevention theorists and researchers have identified parent-child relationship quality and parental monitoring (leading to parental knowledge) to be protective factors against adolescent substance initiation. In today's digital society, parents and adolescents can maintain their relationship and parental monitoring can occur using computer-mediated communication methods, such as text messaging, email, and social networking sites. Despite the widespread use of communication technology by adolescents and their parents, nothing is known about whether these technologies are being used for parental monitoring purposes, and how computer-mediated parental monitoring may be related to parental knowledge, substance initiation, and psychosocial adjustment. Study 1 was designed to overcome the limitations of single-informant designs by examining both parents' and youths' reports of in-person and computer-mediated parental monitoring (N = 56 parent-youth dyads). Using a person-centered approach, Study 2 was designed to examine clusters of parents of adolescents based on their frequency of in-person and computer-mediated monitoring (N = 289). Differences in substance initiation and psychosocial adjustment between the identified clusters were also examined. Results of both studies revealed great variability in frequency of computer-mediated parental monitoring, with a subgroup of parents and youth reporting doing these behaviors very frequently. Results of Study 2 provide evidence that parents may be monitoring in response to their adolescent's substance initiation; the possibility of bidirectional effects of monitoring on substance initiation and psychosocial adjustment are discussed. Findings also suggest the impact of in-person and computer-mediated parental monitoring may differ depending on the levels of parental trust/warmth and parental control within the parent-child relationship. These studies expand the edge of knowledge by examining parental monitoring in today's digital society and exploring how parents may be using technology as a tool to monitor and stay connected to their children.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Jodi Dworkin. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 178 pages.
Computer-mediated Parental Monitoring during Adolescence: Associations with Parental Knowledge, Substance Initiation, and Psychosocial Adjustment.
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