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!


Report: School Principals and Social Networking

via press release:

A new research report was issued today that summarizes the results of an extended look at school principals’ use of social networking. The underlying research for the report, “School Principals and Social Networking in Education: Practices, Policies, and Realities in 2010,” was conducted by, IESD, Inc., MMS Education, and MCH Strategic Data.

Since the creation of MySpace and LinkedIn in 2003 and Facebook in 2004, online social networking has quickly become a pervasive means for people to connect all over the world. Yet schools are one of the last holdouts, where many of the most popular social networking sites are often banned for students, and often for teachers, librarians, and administrators, out of a concern about safety, privacy, confidentiality, and lack of knowledge about how best to ensure appropriate use.

At the same time, education reform initiatives from all corners—Federal and state programs, education research, and policy initiatives—are advocating the use of innovative and collaborative technology to drive improvements in teaching quality and student achievement.

The goal of this research study was to take a close look at the attitudes of school principals about social networking for their own personal use, with their colleagues, and within their school communities. Principals can play an important role in encouraging and training their teachers and staff to adopt new technologies, and in setting policies for the use of technology and the Internet in schools.

The research was conducted in two phases: an online survey sent to a cross section of educators across the country in the fall of 2009, followed by an in-depth EDRoom online discussion with 12 principals who are currently using social networking in their professional lives.

Among the key findings:

  • Most principals who responded to the survey believe that social networking sites can provide value in education because they provide a way for educators to share information and resources with an extended community of educators, create professional learning communities, and improve school-wide communications with students and staff. About half of the surveyed principals felt that social networking is very valuable for these purposes.
  • Most of the principals in the discussion group thought that social networking and online collaboration tools would make a substantive change in students’ educational experience. Specific types of changes they mentioned included:
    • Development of a more social/collaborative view of learning
    • Improved motivation, engagement, and/or active involvement
    • Creation of a connection to real-life learning
  • None of the responding principals in the discussion group had school/district policies in place on social networking that were deemed adequate, suggesting the need for conversations and collaboration on establishing policies that can facilitate appropriate use of social networking in schools for educational purposes.

The PDF is being made available for free. Download School Principals and Social Networking in Education: Practices, Policies, and Realities in 2010 (PDF)

The moms are all right

The publisher of Parenting magazine and just surveyed 1,032 moms on the effect of technology on parenting behavior. The study will be published in September, but you can download a PDF Executive Summary of the survey now.

From the press release:
Parenting and BlogHer found that the majority of moms surveyed have a very positive view of technology’s role in fostering communication and connections within their families:

  • 87% agree that understanding new technology is important to stay connected with their children.
  • 70% feel that technology can provide great ways for families to spend time together.
  • 83% care about new technology because of the benefits it brings to their everyday lives.

These moms do see threats to their children…from both the Internet and television, but they don’t believe those fears have been realized: Only 5% report believing that their children have ever been engaged in addictive online behavior like excessive gaming, only 4% believe their kids have viewed pornography online, and less than 1% believe their kids have participated in cyber-bullying, sexting or inappropriate online communication with adults.

“The results of this survey were very encouraging,” said Nancy Hallberg, chief strategy officer of The Parenting Group. “Today’s moms are not fearful of technology and its growing role in their family’s lives – they view it not only as a tool to connect with other moms, but as a way to communicate with their children and teach them responsible ways to interact online.”

Link to a PDF – An Executive Summary of the survey.

The study will appear in the September issue of Parenting magazine, on, and on


This appears to be all that’s online right now – but the Executive Summary PDF has some interesting tidbits. It clearly shows that these moms feel the benefits of technology outweigh the risks by creating new ways for them to communicate and model appropriate social connections with their children.

In other words – the moms are all right.

Might be an interesting topic for some back to school tech planning. For example, are we overestimating parental fear about online risks and other perceived negative effects of technology? Do we really know what they think these days? It could have changed drastically in the past few years as more and more parents find out that Facebook means stronger family and social connections. What does it mean now and in the future to policies and tech plans if our parents views are changing so quickly? Maybe schools should poll their own parents and ask some of these questions.