Rise of the daddy's girl as more daughters confide in their fathers
Daddy's girls are on the rise as more daughters are talking to their dads about their problems than ever before, ONS data shows.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2017 45 per cent of girls talked to their fathers about things that mattered to them more than once a week, compared to 35 per cent in 2009.
Experts suggested that modern fathers were increasingly involved in children's early upbringing, and this translated into a closer relationship as the child grows up.
Dr Bonamy Oliver, senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: "Parent-child relationships in the early years have important associations with these same relationships down the line.
"The last couple of decades has seen a gradual increase in fathers' involvement in their young children for many families, so it may be that this increased early involvement is paying off for dads in terms of closer relationships with their older children and teens than before."
Dawn Snape, of the ONS, said: "It’s encouraging to see that among girls especially, family relationships are improving.
"Girls are now more likely to talk to their fathers about things that matter to them than previously.
"Use of social networking is on the increase among children – among girls more than boys."
The proportion who said they confided in their mother stayed relatively static, at around 70 per cent of girls and 60 per cent of boys, though the number of boys who said they could speak to either their mother or their father about important issues has increased slightly since 2009.
Girls were also significantly less likely to argue with their mothers than in the past, with just 25 per cent of 10 to 15-year-olds saying they did this more than once a week, compared to 30 per cent in 2010.
Last year was the first year more boys than girls said they argued with their mothers more than once a week, with the proportion of boys saying they did this rising to 26.3 per cent.
Girls are driving a rise in social media use, the data suggests, with 17.4 per cent reporting spending more than three hours on a social network on a normal school day.
This is a significant rise from the proportion which said the same in 2010 to 2011, when 12.1 per cent said they were heavy social media users.
The data, which examines different aspects of children's general wellbeing, also shows that children are less happy with their friendships than in the past, with 80 per cent of girls and 81 per cent of boys reporting high or very high happiness with their friends, compared to 84.8 per cent for girls and 86.8 per cent for boys in 2015.
The ONS said: "Evidence from other sources does suggest that children may be struggling more with social relationships.
"For example, ChildLine has reported an increasing number of calls from children and young people about loneliness and now have a call category specifically devoted to this to monitor the trend more closely going forward."
Previous reports have suggested that there may be a link between heavy social media use and unhappiness, as children are more likely to compare themselves and their lives to their friends.
Chris Sherwood, chief executive at relationship support charity, Relate said: “With more than one in ten young people spending three hours a day or longer on social networking sites more research is needed into the impact on relationships and wellbeing.
"Whilst some studies suggest social media can have a positive impact on young people’s wellbeing if used in in the right way, there are also risks such as cyber-bullying and feelin