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Four out of 10 parents worry their teens overshare online

"We want to help parents get the conversation started."

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communication, social media and people concept - teenage girl speaking to megaphone over internet icons on grey background
Are teenagers oversharing on social media? (Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

By Andrew Young, 72Point via SWNS

Four in 10 parents are worried their teenage children are 'oversharing' on social media.

The study, of 1,000 UK parents with 13 to 18 year-olds, found although 66 percent said self-expression is important, 40 percent fear their offspring are oversharing online.

But 67 percent, of the 1,000 teens polled, believe self-expression and the need to talk things out is important - and they’re comfortable doing so virtually.

According to the research, the most popular topics discussed online are friendships (46 percent), school (43 percent), social issues (30 percent) and mental health (28 percent).

But despite parents’ concerns of their teen’s openness, nearly a quarter (23 percent) confess they still shy away from discussing online safety - largely due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of social media.

And it’s not just parents who are struggling, as 22 percent of teens find it embarrassing to talk about important matters with their guardians.

In fact, 44 percent prefer to chat to friends via text, rather than speak to their parents.

via GIPHY

Whereas their parents, at the same age, would have turned to a diary to open up about their thoughts or feelings (37 percent), or would speak with a friend on the landline (35 percent).

The study was commissioned by Snapchat, to mark the launch of its 'Take My Words' initiative, which encourages parents to share their old diary entries, or a letter to their younger self, to help establish common ground for more open conversations with teens.

Dr. Nihara Krause, adolescent psychologist and teen expert, said: “The need for privacy is a natural part of growing up.

“However, parents want to feel reassured that their teens are being safe online, and getting the balance right is tricky.

“Knowing where to start can feel like a minefield, but thinking about shared experiences is a good place to start.

“Starting a discussion about online interactions and setting boundaries will also help to create clarity between parents, carers and teens.

“Once boundaries are established, parents and teens essentially have a ‘contract’ of expected behavior on both sides in place that can help avoid conflict in the future.”

The research also revealed that for those who do, or have used, a diary or journal, relationships (65 percent) were the most common topic they would write about.

This was followed by detailing their thoughts about friendships (45 percent) and sex (38 percent).

While these were also popular platforms to open up about mental health issues (32 percent) and sexuality (30 percent).

via GIPHY

Ed Couchman, UK general manager at Snapchat, said: “As a parent of two teen girls, I know first-hand these conversations can be tough.

"For many parents, the challenge is knowing where and how to start. We want to help parents get the conversation started.

"While the world feels like it’s changed, many of the issues teens deal with today have similarities to what we experienced growing up ourselves.

“We know it can be tough to navigate and we want to help more parents feel confident in starting these discussions.

"For parents in need of more information about Snapchat, we also have a huge range of resources available, including our Family Centre tool and our Parents Guide."

The 'Take My Word' initiative is now open for submissions and the most poignant examples will be hosted in an online gallery for parents and teens from November 16th.

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