If you have teens at home, you probably worry about their social media ‘activities’: with whom they become friends with and communicate, what they post, whether they disclose personal data online etc. Whereas insulation from social media sites is not an option, education about online safety is in the spotlight. Start with yourselves: if you understand why and how teens use social media sites it will be easier for you to relate to them. As for them, it is more likely your teens will listen to your advice, and remember it. 🙂
Let’s take a look at some astonishing numbers:
92% of American teens go online daily. 24% go online ‘almost constantly’.
These are just some of the key findings of Pew Research Center’s study from 2015. The study shows that more than half of teens go online several times a day; 12% say they go online once-a-day, and only 6% goes online once a week.
One of the reasons behind these high percentages is the expansion of Internet usage on smartphones. More than 90% of teens use their mobile devices to get Internet access at least occasionally.
So, where is your teen hanging out instead of studying?
As you might have expected, the most popular social networking site is Facebook, being used by 71% of teens. The second place goes to Instagram (52%), followed by Snapchat (41%) and others.
Boys vs. girls online: what interests them?
Boys and girls have slightly different interests in the offline world and that reflects online, as well. Boys use Facebook more often than girls; girls use Instagram more often than boys (61% of girls use Instagram vs. 44% percent of boys). Sharing content online is an activity more connected to teenage girls. Teenage boys are more likely to own gaming consoles and play video games. 84% of boys play video games online or on mobile phones vs. 59% of girls.
How many friends/followers your teenager is most likely to have?
The typical teen has 145 Facebook friends and 150 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, boys report 100 friends to girls’ 175. Also, on Instagram, girls typically have more followers than boys, with girls reporting a median of 200 followers on Instagram compared with 100 followers for boys.
Talk with your teenagers about their social media habits.
I was curious about answers I could get so I asked my two girl cousins to tell me what they think about the most prominent social network – Facebook.
The first girl I talked to is 14 and I noticed that she is often on FB. “I mostly use FB to chat with my friends. A lot of my friends from school use it and we mostly chat and post photos’ she said. When I asked how much time daily she spends on FB, she responded: ‘I don’t measure, but I know it’s a lot of time. And absolutely nothing bothers me on FB.”
The other girl is younger (13) and I know that she doesn’t have a FB account so I was curious to know the reasoning behind this. “I simply don’t find FB to be special and I think I can replace it with other Internet services which are safer. Most of my friends use it; they chat and post photos. I believe that I can use that time to read, spend time with my family, or just surf the Internet”. Do her friends try to persuade her to open the account? “Yes, they often ask me why I don’t have it and tell me that I should because it’s great”. I was astonished that she used the word SAFER.
It is important to have these parents-teens talks regularly, in order to establish an open and sincere atmosphere in the house when it comes to the issues of the digital world. Once you have their attention and trust, make the next step: teach them about social networking etiquette rules.
Most of all, be patient. 🙂