Status Updated: Teens Crave Chat With Parents   by Emma Macdonald


It’s a case of believe it or not for parents of teenaged children. An Australian study has found kids love spending time with their mother and father more than their best friend on Facebook or Instagram.

An analysis of the habits of up to 200 teenagers, aged between 12 and 18, found when typical after-school activities were ranked, playing computer games only just scraped in at 10th place – while Facebook ranked ninth.

Spending time with family, homework, watching TV, doing odd jobs, hobbies, sport, friendship and reading were activities undertaken with greater frequency than accessing digital technologies.

The research was commissioned by the Australian Computer Society Community Engagement Board and undertaken by the University of Canberra’s education institute.

Report author Karen Macpherson said while it was commissioned to consider student engagement in information and communications technology with a view to better understanding Australia’s skills shortage in the high-tech jobs, she said the findings debunked a common assumption that the average teenager was glued to their laptop and cut-off from personal communication with family and friends.

”We really need to rethink our stereotypes of modern teenagers,” Dr Macpherson said, adding she had helped raise five teenagers.

”No one would argue against the fact that teenagers have welcomed digital technologies into their lives with open arms. But it may be that the popular stereotype of teenagers as being consumed by Facebook and computer games needs some rethinking.”

Dr Macpherson said her research provided an ”authentic and detailed” picture of information technology exposure among teenagers but even she was surprised by the extent to which ”technology has clearly not taken over their lives”.

”This study suggested that young people today spend most of their time doing what they have done after school for generations: spending time with family; playing sport; doing jobs around the house; and doing homework – albeit with high use of the internet for research. And as they get older, casual jobs are also common.”

Technology habits

  • 80 per cent of teenagers have a Facebook account, just under half access it each day.
  • In February, Facebook said it was having trouble keeping teenagers engaged.
  • Computer game consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox are most popular with boys aged 12 to 14.
  • 95 per cent of teenagers own a mobile phone.
  • 82 per cent sleep with it turned on next to their bed either ‘‘always’’ or ‘‘sometimes’’.
  • More teens use phones for texting (86 per cent) than calls (84per cent).

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