New Pew Internet Reports: Teens, Social Networks, Privacy and Parents

New Pew Report: Teens, kindness and cruelty on social network sites

Social media use has become so pervasive in the lives of American teens that having a presence on a social network site is almost synonymous with being online. Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites. Many log on daily to their social network pages and these have become spaces where much of the social activity of teen life is echoed and amplified—in both good and bad ways.

Part 1 » Teens and social networks

Part 2 » Social media and digital citizenship: What teens experience and how they behave on social network sites

Part 3 » Privacy and safety issues

Part 4 » The role of parents in digital safekeeping and advice-giving

Part 5 » Parents and online social spaces: Tech tool ownership and attitudes towards social media

The good news – “The majority of social media-using teens say their peers are mostly kind to one another on social network sites. Overall, 69% of social media-using teens think that peers are mostly kind to each other on social network sites.”

This a great statistic to use for “positive norming” when talking to students about online behavior. Positive norming is showing that what most people do is positive and healthy, rather than focusing on the alarming behavior of the small minority. See this blog post (Cybersafety – do fear and exaggeration increase risk?) for a great slideshow from Larry Magid on how to present to parents and students about positive online  behavior rather than rely on fear tactics (which don’t work, by the way!)

Don’t let the statistics get skewed – you may also see that 88% of social media-using teens have witnessed other people be mean or cruel on social network sites. But before getting alarmed, realize that lots of people have seen something bad happen, it doesn’t mean it’s happening all the time. If someone asked you, “have you ever seen someone being mean to someone else in public?” – probably 100% of us would say yes. It does not mean that it is the norm. And in fact, only 12% of the 88% who saw meanness, saw it “frequently.”

I think this is another study showing that parents and kids are both doing pretty well navigating the brave new world of social networks and online life. Schools need to build on this positive trend!


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