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Monitoring, Mediating, and Modeling: Parental Influence on Adolescent Computer and Internet Use in the United States



Proliferating internet-accessible media have altered the home context, raising questions about parental influence on youth computer/internet use. This study examines parents’ monitoring, internet mediation, and modeling behaviors as predictors of adolescents’ computer/internet use among 629 US adolescents and their parents. Parents’ time spent with computers was positively associated with teens’ computer time, and parents’ engagement in seven internet activities (e.g., IM/chat) also predicted teens’ engagement in those activities. Greater general parental monitoring of adolescents predicted less teen engagement in IM/chat, social networking site use, video streaming, and multiplayer online games, while parental tracking of internet use predicted more teen IM/chat. Older teens spent more time with computers and in various internet activities and reported lower rates of general parental monitoring and parental internet mediation. Findings suggest that parents act as models for their children’s internet use. Additionally, general parental practices not specific to media may affect youths’ media behaviors as well.