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Families that tweet together keep together

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Parents and teens should connect on facebook according to a new study.(Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

Parents of teenagers looking to forge stronger relationships with their kids should consider sending them Facebook friend requests, a new study shows. 

 As social media has typically been seen as a realm dominated by youth, technology evolves faster than some parents can catch up to it, allowing their teens to roam wild in cyberspace unsupervised by parental eyes. 

But pillars in the industry, such as Facebook and Twitter, have rooted their platforms and carved a place for them in mainstream society. They have managed to keep the learning curve on an even keel long enough for parents to catch up. 

The general consensus amongst youth is that parents and social media don't mix, but a new study out of Brigham Young University in Utah is suggesting that this mingling of familial ties may be a good thing. 

The study found that teenagers who are connected to their parents on social media sites - such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - have closer relationships and display more "pro-social" behaviour. Those teens were seen to be more generous, kind and helpful to others.

Researchers suggest that social media sites can act as yet another platform to show your child support and allow for another avenue to give positive feedback. Also, the study showed that parents and children can have windows into one another's private lives, allowing for more empathetic behaviour toward one another. 

However, researchers did warn that this relationship should be used in moderation. Parents who are too active on a teen's online profile can be seen as invasive, and will have their children reaching for the "unfriend" button.

The social media habits of 491 teenagers and their parents were studied by the university, drawing parallels to their online patterns with depression, aggression, eating disorders and positive behavior. 

They found that teens with overactive social media habits unsupervised by parents were more prone to behavioural, relationship and mental problems. 

On the flip-side, some critics are saying that the correlation between the strong bonds could be a chicken and egg situation; that children with a well-established relationship with their parents would seek out their friendship online as well. 

Are you friends with your relatives online? Do you feel that parents connected with teens online can strengthen ties in the real world?

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