1. In this meta-analysis, higher parental monitoring, knowledge of behavior, and rule enforcement were associated with delayed sexual intercourse among adolescents.
2. Higher parental monitoring was associated with increased contraceptive and condom use in sexually active adolescents.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Study Rundown: Adolescence is increasingly understood as a distinct stage in which behaviors, habits, and decisions have long-term effects on health outcomes. Evidence supports the strong, positive influence of parental monitoring on adolescent decisions and health behaviors. Parental monitoring, the overall participation and knowledge of their teen’s social life and contacts, is a significantly influential behavior that can modify adolescents’ decisions regarding sexual behavior. It remains unclear, however, what type of monitoring is most effective and the overall relationship between monitoring and sexual behavior among teens. This meta-analysis explores the effects of parental monitoring on teen sexual behavior. Overall, higher parental monitoring of teen behavior, rule enforcement, and knowledge of behaviors, locations, and companions (monitoring knowledge) were associated with delayed sexual intercourse in teens. Higher overall monitoring and monitoring knowledge were associated with increased condom and contraceptive use. These results encourage physicians to recommend active parental monitoring of their teens to encourage healthy decision-making with regards to sexual activity. While this study underscores the positive effects of parental monitoring on teen sexual behavior, it is limited by significant heterogeneity and focus on heterosexual adolescents only.
Relevant Reading: Adolescence and the social determinants of health
In-Depth [meta-analysis]: This analysis included studies published between 1984 and 2014 examining the link between parental monitoring and teen sexual behavior. A total of 24 studies with 30 associations were included in the final analysis. Pooled odds ratios and heterogeneity were calculated. Overall, higher parental monitoring was associated with decreased number of teens initiating sex (OR 0.68, 95% CI 0.61-0.75). Higher monitoring knowledge and rule enforcement were associated with fewer adolescents having had sex (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.63-0.83 and OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.52-0.72, respectively). These associations remained significant when males and females were analyzed separately, and similar effects remained between middle and high school students. Higher levels of monitoring knowledge and rules were significantly associated with ever-sex among adolescents (OR 0.81, 95% CI 0.73-0.90 and OR 0.67, 95% CI 0.59-0.75, respectively). Higher parental monitoring and monitoring knowledge were associated with increased rates of condom use (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.02-1.33 and OR 1.24, 95% CI 1.04-1.47, respectively). Parental monitoring and monitoring knowledge were also associated with higher rates of contraceptive use (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.09-1.86 and OR 2.27, 95% CI 1.42-3.63, respectively).
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