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A critique of parental monitoring using Bandura's social cognitive learning theory as framework Easterbrook, Adam

Abstract

This study tests competing hypotheses that examine the relationship between adolescents' perception of disclosure of information in the parent-adolescent relationship and adolescents' perception of their friends as prosocial or deviant. The first hypotheses are based on previous research on monitoring. They posit that parental efforts to obtain information about adolescents' activities, whereabouts and friends will influence adolescents' choice of either prosocial or deviant friends. The competing hypotheses are developed using Bandura's (2001) social cognitive learning theory as a framework. These hypotheses argue that adolescents' perception of their friends as either prosocial or deviant may determine how much information adolescents' will give to parents regarding activities, whereabouts and friends. To test the hypotheses, data was used from waves one and two of a three-year longitudinal study that is exploring adolescent life among high school students. Results offer partial support for the monitoring hypotheses. Maternal desire to know about adolescents' activities, whereabouts and friends is positively associated with adolescents' perception of friends as prosocial, but is not associated with adolescents' perception of friends as deviant. In contrast, paternal desire to know about adolescents' activities, whereabouts and friends is negatively associated with adolescents' perception of friends as deviant, but is not associated with adolescents' perception of friends as prosocial. The competing hypotheses developed using Bandura's (2001) social cognitive learning theory as a framework, were supported. Adolescents' perception of friends as prosocial is positively associated with adolescents' willingness to give information regarding activities, whereabouts and friends to parents, whereas adolescents' perception of friends as deviant is negatively associated with adolescents' willingness to give information to parents regarding activities, whereabouts and friends. These findings contribute to a growing body of literature (e.g., Kerr & Stattin, 2000; Stattin & Kerr, 2000) that questions monitoring as a useful and effective strategy for parental peer management. These results also underscore the need to examine adolescents as agentic beings who work to balance parent and peer relationships.

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