The difficulties of being a teenager in the 21st century were also laid bare, with three in five parents admitting their child suffered from 'anxiety'.

London - Fathers are becoming increasingly protective of their daughters because they fear the influence of social networking sites, a survey suggested recently.

They “feel less in control because of social media” such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a poll of head teachers at leading girls’ schools.

Fathers are also concerned about the growing influence on their daughters of celebrity culture, with some “perceiving the world as a more dangerous place”.

The trend emerged in a poll by the Girls’ Schools Association, which represents fee-paying schools. The organisation surveyed 180 members on fathers’ roles in their daughters’ education.

Parents are said to be enrolling girls in private schools at an increasingly young age to protect them from a growing “WAG culture” that scorns academic achievement.

According to the poll, 49 percent of principals believe fathers are more protective of their daughters than they used to be, mainly because of fears over social media.

Just five percent said fathers were less protective these days, with the remainder detecting no clear trend.

The poll also suggested that increasing numbers of fathers are “house dads”, with mothers being the main earners.

Heads felt fathers and mothers took a broadly equal interest in their daughters’ education, but fathers were more likely to contact schools “if they feel their daughter is being unfairly treated”.

GSA member Alun Jones, principal of St Gabriel’s girls’ school in Newbury, said the poll suggested fathers took an ‘active and equal’ interest in their academic progress.

He said: “Fathers have legitimate concerns about protecting their daughters in a world where young girls – and boys – are subject to all kinds of pressures through the media.

“These are real concerns.”

Fee-paying prep schools recently reported a 1.1 percent rise in the number of girls as young as two admitted to its schools in 2011 and 2012. The intake of boys grew more modestly, at 0.4 percent. The Independent Association of Preparatory Schools reported that new parents are voicing concern over the influences their daughters are exposed to, including celebrity culture and its obsession with diets and airbrushing.

They are worried their daughters will grow up believing their appearance is a route to success rather than intelligence and ambition.

Soap opera plotlines leave girls believing it is normal to “lurch from one drama to another”. Association chief executive David Hanson said parents were increasingly recognising that the culture influencing their daughters involved little more than diets, fame and soap opera lifestyles.

He said: “They want to make sure their girls are given all the tools they need to be confident in life and a prep school education gives them the best possible start to gain real aspiration and success.

“The women who girls at prep schools admire are high-performing teachers who are clearly attractive because they have achieved, are confident and engaging. These are the kind of role models we want for our children.” - Daily Mail