Monitoring Your Teen’s Activities: What Parents and Families Should Know

Learn ways parents can use effective monitoring practices to help their teen make healthy decisions and avoid risky behaviors

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The teen years are a time of rapid growth, exploration, and risk taking. Taking risks provides young people the opportunity to test their skills and abilities and discover who they are. But, some risks—such as smoking, using drugs, drinking and driving, and having unprotected sex—can have harmful and long-lasting effects on a teen’s health and well-being.

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Parents are a powerful influence in the lives of their teens. When parents make a habit of knowing about their teens—what they are doing, who they are with, and where they are and setting clear expectations for behavior with regular check-ins to be sure these expectations are being met—they can reduce their teens’ risks for injury, pregnancy, and drug, alcohol, and cigarette use. These parents are monitoring their teens’ activities and behavior.

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CDC scientists and other practitioners researched the effectiveness of parenting interventions aimed at reducing adolescent risk behaviors. For example, the resource, Parental Monitoring of Adolescents: Current Perspectives for Researchers and Practitionersexternal icon, provides research and techniques for productive supervision within the home.

  1. Guilamo-Ramos V, Jaccard J, Dittus P. Parental Monitoring of Adolescents: Current Perspectives for Researchers and Practitioners. New York: Columbia University Press; 2010.
  2. Brendgen M, Vitaro R, Tremblay RE, et al. Reactive and proactive aggression: predictions to physical violence in different contexts and moderating effects of parental monitoring and caregiving behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2001;29(4):293–304.
  3. Choquet M, Hassler C, Morin D, et al. Perceived parenting styles and tobacco, alcohol and cannabis use among French adolescents: gender and family structure differentials. Alcohol & Alcoholism 2008;43(1):73–80.
  4. Cota-Robles S, Gamble W. Parent-adolescent processes and reduced risk for delinquency: the effect of gender for Mexican American adolescents. Youth & Society 2006;37(4):375–392.
  5. Li X, Feigelman S, Stanton B. Perceived parental monitoring and health risk behaviors among urban low-income African-American children and adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health 2000;27(1):43–48.
  6. Markham CM, Lormand D, Gloppen KM, et al. Connectedness as a predictor of sexual and reproductive health outcomes for youth. Journal of Adolescent Health 2010;46(3 Suppl 1):S23–S41.