What parents want to know: research findings

PAS commissioned Scotinform to conduct consultations with parents/carers of 11-19 year-olds. Scotinform conducted four focus groups with parents in Midlothian and Glasgow consulting with a total of 31 parents (18 female and 13 male).

Janet Sylvester, managing director of Scotinform presented the main findings from the consultation and highlighted that:

  • Parents in the focus groups had looked for information, often because of a trigger such as an item in the media; the young person asking for advice; or the parent being concerned about an issue such as homework
  • Parents had looked for information on a wide range of topics, but issues of particular concern were drugs (particularly so called legal highs) and internet usage. This was related to parents' lack of knowledge; they could not draw on their own teenage experiences (eg social networking was not an issue then)
  • Parents tended to look for information online, often using google. They also relied on schools and school websites, not only for education-related topics; and through word of mouth using friends and family
  • Parents had looked at printed materials too. These usually came from schools or they picked them up in doctors' surgeries of libraries. The nature of online information meant that printed materials tended to give parents a sense of what information was credible and trustworthy
  • When they looked at samples, participants preferred small format booklets (such as the PAS A6 format top tips booklets). They liked succinct text with key points and signposting to online information or other sources of help
  • Parents wanted to share materials with their teenage children so these need to appeal to young people as well as adults

These findings provide useful guidance for anyone developing information for parents and highlight the role of schools in informing parents.

Let's talk teens: what do parents of teenagers want to know about the teenage years is available in hard copy or to download here.

You can download Janet Sylvester's presentation here.

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