Family Time Goes Digital

Seven in ten parents turn to social networks to communicate with their children as Twitter and Facebook replace kitchen table chats.
Iam150/ investigates...

* One in ten admit not having meaningful chats in person with children
* Average Brit has just six face-to-face conversations with family per week
* Over a third of parents rely on social media to understand their children

Family chats are becoming a thing of the past as the majority of parents now communicate regularly with their children through social network sites, according to a new report out today.

A staggering seven in ten parents have admitted to now using social sites such as Facebook and Twitter as a regular channel of communication in their family.

And more than one in ten admit they didn’t have meaningful chats in person with their children at all throughout a typical week.

It has been revealed that the average Brit has just six face-to-face conversations with others in their family each week – that's less than one a day.

Instead, we send five emails on an average week, post on walls three times a week and comment on photos twice a week via social networking sites.

Furthermore, over a third of parents claim to rely heavily on other social websites such as Pinterest and Instagram to really understand what makes their child tick.

An overwhelming 62 per cent of those parents quizzed revealed that they checked what their children were 'liking' or 'wanting to be seen in' at least once a day.

80 per cent of those parents who keep an eye on things that their child has shown an interest in online - whether it’s a hobby or an item of clothing or a place to go to - say it has significantly helped their relationship with their child.

However, nearly all (98 per cent) admitted to not really wanting to be 'friends' with or 'followers' of their children, but felt that they needed to as this was the only way they would get the quickest response.

Andrew Hewitt, co-founder of Iam150/, who carried out the research, said: 'It’s definitely a sign of the times that parents are using social tools as the main way to communicate with and understand their children.

'Who would have thought ten years ago that the web would play such a big part in a family’s everyday life?

'Our research clearly shows that it’s these technically adept parents who are the smart ones as they’ve realised that children can hide the majority of content in their Facebook feed from them so their “friendship” with their child can be meaningless.

'Instead they have turned to things like Pinterest to understand what their children are really about.'

Professor Karen Pine, Psychologist at University of Hertfordshire added: 'As children develop and are able to spend more time away from their parents it leaves mothers and fathers ignorant of what their children are doing, and also feeling they know them less well.

'This survey reminds us that it is vital that parents keep up with technology and become familiar with the social tools used by the younger generation. This way the tech savvy parents will be better able to keep tabs on their children.

'By being able to see what their child likes and dislikes online they may also gain better insight into their child's behaviour. This will not only enhance the parent-child relationship but may also help ensure child safety on-line.

'Although face-to-face communication is important for healthy family functioning, we also all have to accept that we live in a digital age and need to adapt to new ways of interacting.'

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