Summary of Research Regarding Teens Online—The Future of Social
The best research on the online world of teens comes from Pew and the experience, while cautionary as to bullying, is not as bad as others have made it out to be. Fifteen percent report online “meanness.” The report shows parents actively involved in the online lives of their children which is how it should be.
As to the social media world, it illustrates that being online and being influenced by the digital experience is and will forever be part of the lives of all Americans at some point (i.e., 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online). It’s one thing for current research to suggest that the bulk of Americans are involved in the digital world. It will be an entirely different experience when everyone spends part of their day on social and other 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.
The majority of social media-using teens say their peers are mostly kind to one another on social network sites. Their views are less positive than those of social media-using adults.
88% of social media-using teens have witnessed other people be mean or cruel on social network sites.
15% of social media-using teens say they have been the target of online meanness.
More teens report positive personal outcomes than negative ones from interactions on social network sites: 78% report at least one good outcome and 41% report at least one negative outcome.
19% of teens have been bullied in the past year in some form – either in person, online, by text, or by phone.
How do people respond to mean behavior online? Teens say they most often see people ignoring cruelty, but a substantial number have witnessed others standing up for victims.
A majority of teens say their own reaction has been to ignore mean behavior when they see it on social media.
Two-thirds of teens who have witnessed online cruelty have also witnessed others joining in – and 21% say they have also joined in the harassment.
Teens rely most heavily on parents and peers for advice about online behavior and coping with challenging experiences.
Most of these exchanges happening on social network sites are not taking place in full public view, as the majority of teens take various steps to manage their privacy online.
55% of all online teens say they have decided not to post content that might reflect poorly on them in the future.
A notable number of teens also engage in online practices that may have the potential to compromise their safety online.
Most parents of teens talk with their child or use non-technical measures to manage their teens’ online experiences.
39% of all parents of teens have connected to their child on a social network site, but that does not necessarily prevent online trouble for the teen.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center. The Center is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts.