Mobile phones can have a positive impact on the interaction of teenagers with their parents, research from Northumbria University suggests.

A Psychology lecturer found that mobile phones act as a 'security blanket' for young people as they venture further from home, knowing that parents are only a call or text away if they get in trouble.

Mobile technology allows teenagers to stay in touch with others and can help them develop closer, more supportive friendships.

Although teenagers need freedom to explore new friendships, it's recognised that they still need the emotional support of their parents.

The study asked more than 150 teenagers about how much time they spent online and how many texts they sent every day for one week.

They were also measured for how much time they spent face-to-face with parents without being distracted by their phone.

Teenagers who spent more time texting and chatting online with friends also spent more time talking face-to-face with their parents. This was true both on a daily basis and on average.

When teenagers could text their parents regularly, they felt even closer to their parents than those whose only contact with their parents was face-to-face. The study suggest that this is likely because texting allows young people to feel closer to their parents while still allowing them their freedom.

The work also acknowledges that there are risks to spending too much time looking at screens.