It’s relatively rare to get new research on teens, parents and social media but three surveys dropped this week. One was from Pew Research, another was from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) and the third was from TikTok in partnership with ConnectSafely.org, where I serve as CEO. Pew is a highly respected survey organization and both the FOSI and TikTok/ConnectSafely surveys were conducted by reputable research firms.
The Pew study found that 80% of teens felt that social media provides them with a space for connection, creativity and support, though only a third said “a lot” while just under half said “a little.” About a third (32%) felt the services had a positive impact, with most (59%) saying neither negative nor positive and only 9% saying mostly negative. While that’s far from an enthusiastic endorsement of social media, it’s an indicator that — for the most part — teens feel pretty good about their social media experiences. It’s also reassuring to see that more than two-thirds (67%) say these platforms make them feel as if they have people who can support them through tough times.
But teens did express concerns. A significant minority of teens (38%) say they feel overwhelmed by all the drama they see on social media, 31% said the platforms have made them feel like their friends are leaving them out of things and 29% have felt pressure to post content that will get lots of likes or comments with 23% saying the platforms make them feel worse about their own life.
Pew Research Center
The Pew study found that 22% believe their parents are extremely or very worried about them using social media, while another 27% say their parents are somewhat worried. About a third of teens say their parents’ views about social media are about right, while 39% say things are better than their parents think they are while 27% say they are worse.
Clearly, teens and their parents are far from monolithic on their views of social media, and while I’m happy that most teens are doing alright, I am very concerned about those who may be having bad online experiences. Everyone involved — industry, the government, parents and teens themselves and even nonprofits like my own organization, need to increase their efforts to reduce the potential negative impact of social media
TikTok/ConnectSafely parent survey
The survey conducted by TikTok in partnership with ConnectSafely polled parents on what they do to help their teens stay safe online on all platforms — not just TikTok. It was conducted by YouGov, an international research data and analytics company, which interviewed 2,000 US parents of 13 to 17-year-olds.
Larry Magid, EdD, is CEO of ConnectSafely and is also a technology commentator. He served as technology analyst for CBS News and as a nationally syndicated columnist for the Los Angeles Times and a contributor to the New York Times and has worked with BBC and NPR. He writes a weekly column for the Mercury News and blogs at Forbes.com and Larrysworld.com.