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Parents have a variety of concerns when it comes to their teens’ use of social media, with access to explicit content and waste of time topping the list, according to a Pew Research Center survey of parents of teens ages 13 to 17 years. done this spring. The survey also shows that most parents are attentive to what their teens are doing on social media. Some are also imposing screen time restrictions on these sites.
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Pew Research Center conducted this study to better understand parental concerns and practices regarding their teens’ use of social media. For this analysis, we surveyed 1,316 American parents of teens ages 13 to 17. Ipsos conducted the survey online from April 14 to May 4, 2022.
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This research was reviewed and approved by an external institutional review board (IRB), Advarra, which is an independent committee of experts that specializes in helping to protect the rights of research participants.
Ipsos invited panelists who were parents of at least one 13- to 17-year-old adolescent from its KnowledgePanel, a probability-based web panel recruited primarily through national random sampling of residential addresses, to conduct this survey. For some of these questions, parents were asked to think of an adolescent in their household (if they had multiple adolescent children ages 13-17 in the household, one was chosen at random). The survey is weighted to be representative of US parents of teens ages 13-17 by age, gender, race, ethnicity, household income, and other categories.
Parents of an adolescent or parents of adolescents is used in this analysis to refer to adults who report parenting at least one child between the ages of 13 and 17, but who may also have other children. In cases where respondents have more than one child in this age range, the survey asked parents to focus on a specific teen while answering the questions, and provided the age and gender of this selected teen when responding. randomly from a list of their children they provided. .
While social media has made it easy for people to search for information, some say it has also made inappropriate and explicit content more accessible. According to the April 14-May 4, 2022 survey, nearly half of parents of teens (46%) say they are extremely or very concerned that their teens’ use of social media could lead them to be exposed to explicit content.
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The impact of social media on productivity is also a key concern for parents. Some 42% say they are extremely or very concerned that their teen is spending too much time on social media, while 38% express the same level of concern about their teen being distracted from completing homework because they are using social media. social.
About a third of parents (34%) are extremely or very concerned that their teens will share too much about their personal lives. About three in 10 say the same thing about social media making their teen feel pressured to act a certain way (32%), harassed or bullied (29%), experience anxiety or depression (28%) or experience lower self-esteem (27%). Still, about half of parents (47%) say they are little or not at all concerned about the anxiety or depression social media causes in their teens.
Parental concerns about social media vary by race and ethnicity. Hispanic parents are more likely to express a high level of concern about many of these issues compared to black and white parents. For example, 45% of Hispanic parents say they are extremely or very concerned that their teens’ use of social media may lead them to share too much online, compared to 30% of white parents and 29% of black parents. Hispanic parents are also more likely than black and white parents to be extremely or very concerned about social media leading to cyberbullying, anxiety or depression, exposure to explicit content, or low self-esteem. (There were not enough Asian American parents in the sample to analyze separately.) However, similar percentages of parents of all racial and ethnic lines say they are extremely or very concerned that social media causes distractions from homework, time wasting, and peer pressure for their children. adolescent children.
Parental concerns about the impact of social media on the mental health of their teens also differ based on the child’s gender. Parents of teen girls are more likely than parents of teen boys to say they are extremely or very concerned that social media use could lead to anxiety and depression in their teens (32% vs. 24% ) and low self-esteem (30%). % vs 23%).
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The survey also shows that some parents intervene in their teens’ social media use in certain ways. One approach is to monitor what teens do on social media, either manually or through the variety of apps that exist for this purpose. Another is to institute screen time limits, a method also recommended by health and parenting websites.
Most parents (57%) say they at least sometimes check on what their teen is doing on social media, while 49% say they often or sometimes limit the hours of the day or time their teen teenager son can use social networks.
African-American parents of teens are more likely than Hispanic or white parents to review their teens’ social media activity. About seven in 10 black parents (69%) say they do this at least some of the time, compared to 59% of Hispanic parents and 54% of white parents. Black and Hispanic parents are also more likely than white parents to say they set time limits on social media at least sometimes.
There are also differences in parental social media monitoring based on the gender or age of your teen. Parents of teen girls are more likely than parents of teen boys to say that they often or sometimes monitor their children’s social media and limit teens’ time on social media. And parents of 13- to 14-year-olds are more likely than those with 15- to 17-year-olds to report that they limit when and how long their child can be on social networking sites.
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More generally, parents of teens generally agree that the world is very different from the one they grew up in, according to a recent survey.
When thinking about today’s teens compared to when they were teens themselves, 77% of parents say teens today have to deal with a completely different set of issues than they did in the past. Far fewer (23%) say that, despite some differences, the problems teens have to deal with today are not that different from when they were teenagers themselves.
There are no differences of opinion on this question across most demographic groups. But it’s important to note that the survey was conducted in the spring of 2022, when many families had or were recently dealing with disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
About the Pew Research Center The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan data center that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends that shape the world. It conducts public opinion surveys, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take political positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
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