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Almost half of parents know their teens' email password, says Pew survey

Technically Incorrect: A new survey about parents, kids and their online lives shows that parents are quite vigilant about their kids' virtual lives.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Parents are getting wiser to their teen's online lives?

Photo by Gary Turk/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Since the Internet came along, it's proved to be a new, dynamic battleground for parents and their teens.

At first, it seemed that the teens had the upper hand. They were digitally savvy. The parents were crushingly clueless. Could it be, though, that parents are catching up?

After all, adults now stare into their phones just as much as kids. They're even down, as the kids say, with brands such as Snapchat and Tinder.

Perhaps it's unsurprising, then, that a Pew survey released this week suggests many parents claim to be fine sleuths of their teens' online lives.

48 percent say they know their teen's email password, for example. It's unclear how they know it. Could this be through subterfuge? Or might it be that they make it a condition of their teen having gadgets?

The same percentage comes up on another interesting finding: 48 percent say they've looked through their teen's phone call records or texts.

This seems quite an invasion. I'm not sure I'd have liked my mom reading, say, the florid love letters I wrote to girls at school. (When I was 9, you understand.)

Parents these days believe invasions are necessary. 61 percent say they've checked the websites their kids go to. 60 percent have checked their teens' social media profiles. (How do they react when they see their teen's relationship status is "complicated"?)

The truly bothersome, hover-some parents -- which comprised 35 percent of these respondents -- say they even know the password to at least one of their teen's social media profiles.

You'll, though, be wondering how many have actually followed their teens on social media or friended them on Facebook. A fulsome 56 percent say they have. I'm sure the teens were grateful.

The survey was conducted among parents and teens (aged 13-17) on September 25-October 9, 2014 and February 10-March 16, 2015. The sample size was 1,060 parent-teen pairs.

Digital monitoring must be very hard work for parents. Teens are glued to the online world. The ease with which they can post anything they want means that the sheer volume of postings is difficult to embrace.

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier. When it comes to parenting, computers are making the parent-teen relationship more complicated than ever.

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