Teenagers say that social networks are more positive than you think. this is why



CNN

Teenagers are entering the chat on social networks.

Adults are often stressed by the anxiety, self-esteem issues and social comparisons teens may encounter on social media, but a new study asks teens what they actually experience online and how they view it in their lives.

“One of the things that we really want to do with this broader work is bring teen voices into the debate,” said the report’s lead author, Monica Anderson, associate director for research in the Internet and technology team at Pew Research Center. “This paper really wants to shed light on the following: teens get positives from social media, but they also get negatives.”

researchers with the Pew Research Center surveyed 1,316 teens in the United States ages 13 to 17 from mid-April to early May. Young people were asked about their thoughts, feelings, and use of social media.

“When it comes to new and emerging technology, teens are often at the forefront of technology adoption,” Anderson said.

One theme from the survey results: Teens view their experience on social media as more positive than adults realize.

Only 27% said their experience is even worse than their parents think; the rest said it was correct or better, according to the survey.

It makes sense that adult perspectives are skewed, said Michelle Icard, a parenting educator and speaker and author of “Fourteen Talks at Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Should Have With Your Kids Before They Start High School.”

“Taking out their negative social media experiences on parents is one way tweens and teens cope,” she said via email. “Often our children report what went wrong with their day, in person or online, but forget to come back and let us know when their problems are resolved or no longer painful. So parents worry a lot after kids have shrugged off something.”

Teens who responded to the survey said the good things they get from social media include feeling a connection and gaining support from a community.

Overall, 80% said social media gives them some level of connection to what’s going on in their friends’ lives, 71% said it’s a place where they can show their creativity, 67% said social media they reassure them that they have people to support them in difficult times, and 58% said it makes them feel more accepted, according to the survey.

Black and Hispanic teens were more likely than their white counterparts to report feeling more accepted because of social media, the data showed.

Especially during the pandemic, the children Icard worked with were grateful to be able to connect with each other, she said. And if she’s encouraged in the right way, Icard has seen social media as a good way to showcase talent and humor.

And teens tend to use it that way, the data showed. According to the survey, the top three things teens reported posting about were their achievements, their family, and their emotions.

Survey participants were more likely to say that social media is mostly positive or neutral for them personally, but leaned in a more negative direction when it came to its impact on people their age, the survey found. .

“People can see a lot of benefits from technology and, in this case, from social media,” Anderson said, “but they’re much more likely to see the downsides when they look at social media as a whole.”

This survey can be useful for getting an overview of social media and teens, but there are still individual circumstances and drawbacks to consider, Icard said.

For example, girls ages 15 to 17 were more likely than any other age group to say they don’t post on social media because they’re worried about being embarrassed, the survey found.

And girls were more likely to report feeling overwhelmed by drama on social media than boys, according to the study.

But all groups recognized the drawbacks. Those who reported negative experiences mainly attributed them to screen time, mental health and the impact of online drama, according to the survey.

And 60% of all teens report that they feel little or no control over the data that social media companies collect from them.

“Social media is a tool, and as such, it’s not all good and not all bad,” Icard said.

“You know your child’s temperament, social life and experiences best,” she said by email. “Regardless of how most children report to themselves, your decision must first take into account your child’s unique situation.”

So how do you optimize the experience for you or your child?

Icard recommended a slow exposure, allowing kids to join one social media app at a time and only expand when they show enough responsibility to use them without hurting their sense of self.

“I also think parents should teach their kids about app etiquette and safety,” Icard said, “and they should monitor more at first, but then (decrease) over time.”

Have frequent conversations about what’s going on on these platforms. While it may grant more autonomy over time, “a child who isn’t willing to talk about her experience on the app might not be ready for one,” she added.

Don’t panic about having a teen on social media, as the experience comes with ups and downs like any other part of life, Icard said.

“But if parents notice that social media creates feelings that are harmful to their teen’s sense of self,” he added, “it would be appropriate to consult with a therapist who can help them with more positive self-talk and habits.”

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