My teen is seemingly always on her iphone or her laptop. She texts, Skypes, IMs and is constantly in contact with her friends, teachers and the world at large as she is one of the few teens on Twitter. I worry continually about who she is talking with online, whether there is any bullying going on and how she is handling herself. We’ve had numerous talks about online safety and bullying as she has had a bully who has followed her from the real world to her online world for over six years. But she needs the internet. It is critical for homework, getting assignments, talking to teachers and the mental break she needs to socialize with friends, as school and activities tend to limit her free time. She is not alone.
In fact, internet usage among teens, according to Pew Internet, is almost ubiquitous–95% of teen 12-17 are internet users and 80% of them are on social media sites. Their recent study looked at teens experiences online, social activity, privacy controls and how their parents are regulating their usage. Here are some of the highlights.
It was interesting to see that 65% of teens say they have had personal experiences online that made them feel good about themselves. Facebook, for example, is a place to share experiences, photos, enjoy the comraderie, help each other with homework and validate their journeys in life. In the course of this sharing, it’s not surprising to learn that 58% said they felt closer to another person because of a social network.
Are there teens being mean and cruel online? Certainly. 88% of teens report having seen someone be mean or cruel. And 48% of teens reported at least one negative experience online. And what do they report doing about it?
According to Pew, “55% of those who witness cruel behavior say that this the most frequent response from others. (doing nothing). Some 27% say they frequently see others defend the victim, 20% say they frequently see others tell the person being mean to stop, and 19% say they frequently see others join in the harassment.”
Parents will be shocked.
A Consumer Reports study from this year, which extrapolated estimates based on parent interviews, suggested that 7.5 million American children under the age of 13 were Facebook users, and that approximately 5 million were age 10 and under.
• Half of teens online have lied about their age.
• 33% of all teen social network site users say they have shared a password with a friend or significant other
Only a little over half of teens (55%) are recognizing the need to be careful about what they post as it might impact their future.
Sites parents can turn to for help and information: