Good News from Pew Research on Teen Social Media Use

No time to give this a proper read and digest, but since my last post was about keeping our kids safe online, I wanted to quickly pass along some optimistic survey results released today.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project announced the findings of their “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy research.” It notes that while teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past, they take an array of steps to restrict and prune their profiles.

A few good news items include:

  • 19% post content they later regret sharing (could be much worse)
  • 20% share their cell phone number (I thought it would be higher)
  • 16% automatically include location in their posts (good to know they’re aware)
  • 61% have decided not to post something because it might reflect badly on them in the future

According to Pew, the typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends. The larger a teen’s network, the more likely they are to have a wider variety of friends and share more personal information. This image shows how those with 1-150 friends share, but you can click on it to be taken to the interactive version and compare the difference with larger friend networks.

Teens on Facebook: What They Share with Friends - Chart by Pew Research

They’ve also got a site to let you build an interactive profile to explore what teens post and prune on their own profiles.

One of the things that caught my eye there was the finding that teens whose parents have higher levels of education and income are more likely than teens whose parents have lower levels of education and income to share videos of themselves on social media – a finding Pew thought may be influenced by the tech assets of the family.

An Associated Press writer‘s attention was caught by how the results showed teens moving increasingly to Twitter to avoid their parents and the ‘‘oversharing’’ that they see on Facebook. And, Huffington Post declared “The Facebook generation is fed up with Facebook.”

But, Pew researcher Mary Madden told USAToday  that in focus groups, conducted by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, “we repeatedly heard kids saying that they knew their parents were watching.” As a parent, I’m glad to hear that. To me it is encouraging to know that more parents are getting involved and watching what they’re kids are doing. It’s not about being Big Brother, but about being a parent.


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