COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Parents of teenagers, don't despair. New research suggests that parents continue to influence their adolescents' behavior, even as friends and schools loom larger in teens' eyes.
A study at Ohio State University used a national data set to track 1,725 children for five years, beginning when they were between 11 and 17 years old. The goal was to see how the influence of three important social environments in teens' lives -- family, peers and school -- changed during the course of adolescence. Specifically, the study examined how peers, family and school influenced whether adolescents became involved in delinquency.
The results showed, as expected, that the effect of friends and school grew during early adolescence, peaked in mid-adolescence, and then began to slowly decline. On the other hand, the influence of parents did not show any pattern of change, but remained steady through the teen years.
"People tend to perceive parents as likely losers in the competition with their children's friends over influencing adolescent behavior," said Sung Joon Jang, author of the study and assistant professor of sociology at Ohio State.
"But this study shows parents still have an impact throughout adolescence on whether their children become involved in delinquent behavior."