Social media has a dramatic influence on many young people and poses unique challenges for parents and this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago recently polled nearly 3,000 current or recent parents of teenagers to better understand their most pressing concerns and challenges with social media, as well as trends in behavior exhibited by their children. The goal was also to cover both the positive and negative aspects of social media which can vary depending on how the technology is used. Overall, the study found that parents are concerns that social media has a negative impact on their children’s lives with 58% of surveyed parents reporting that social media has a negative impact on their children’s lives. Let’s take a deeper dive into the survey results.
How does social media affect your teen?
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago split social media use into two very specific categories. The first category looked at the things that social media use takes away from our children and the different things that social media exposes children too.
Listed below are the top concerns parents have with their teen’s social media use:
1. Not sleeping enough (58%)
2. Not enough physical activity (57%)
3. Not enough focus on schoolwork (52%)
4. An unhealthy need for approval or attention (51%)
5. Not enough face-to-face interaction (49%)
6. Becoming sexualized too soon (45%)
7. Not enough personal privacy; oversharing their lives (44%)
8. Potential exposure to sexual predators (41%)
9. Exposed to hate speech (41%)
10. Inhibits the ability to focus (37%)
11. Being bullied (35%)
12. Inhibits healthy brain development (29%)
13. Bullying others (18%)
14. None of the above (5%)
Has your teen’s social media use changed during quarantine?
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago was curious to see how social media use has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this might not come as a total surprise, most parents reported that their teens were using social media more during the pandemic.
See the full breakdowns below:
🅫63% of parents said their teens were using social media more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only 25% of parents said they are using social media less during the COVID-19 pandemic.
12% said they are using social media about the same as the pre-pandemic.
Which social media platforms concern parents the most?
In the next part of the survey, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago surveyed parents about which specific social media platforms they were concerned with the most.
The top five most concerning social media platforms are
See the full breakdown below:
1. Instagram (48%)
2. Snapchat (45%)
3. TikTok (40%)
4. Facebook (39%)
5. YouTube (15%)
6. Twitter (11%)
7. WhatsApp (11%)
8. Kik (9%)
9. 4chan (8%)
10. Discord (7%)
11. Omegle (4%)
12. Houseparty (4%)
13. Tumblr (4%)
14. Twitch (3%)
The social and psychological impacts of social media on teens
The next part of the survey covers the various impacts that social media has on teens specifically focusing on social and psychological impacts. An overwhelming majority of parents (68%) that they believe social media has an impact on their child’s ability to socialize with other children. Even more concerning, almost 70% of parents believe their teen is currently addicted to social media. Parents are also concerned that social media makes their teens seek an unhealthy level of approval and attention from their peers.
Parental concerns with privacy or the lack thereof on social media
As mentioned in the previous section, many parents have issues with the lack of privacy their teens have while using social media. Over 50% of parents said they weren’t comfortable with their teen’s behavior or social media. They also feel that teens tend to overshare their lives on social media and don’t let private moments stay within their family. Parents were asked whey they were uncomfortable with their child’s behavior on social media.
Listed below are their top responses:
1. They were being too open with their sharing, often lacking privacy (35%)
2. They were being too sexual (20%)
3. They were being insensitive (18%)
4. They were being aggressive (16%)
5. They were being reckless (11%)
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago also looked at demographic breakdowns in this section as well. They found that parents were twice as likely to be concerned about their girls being too sexual when compared to boys. On the flip side, parents were twice as likely to be concerned that their boys were being too aggressive on social media when compared to girls.
Setting rules around social media use
The next part of the survey asked parents about whether or not they were setting and enforcing rules around how their children were using social media. 80% of surveyed respondents said they have set rules around the phone and social media use. Of those setting rules, 70% of parents said they have been enforced. 43% of parents said they have used an app to monitor or restrict their child’s device and internet use. 68% of those parents said they app worked as expected.
What types of rules have parents enforced?
Listed below are the tops rules that parents have enforced upon their children when it comes to their social media use:
1. Limited how much the phone can be used (31%)
2. Limit when the phone can be used (23%)
3. Limit where the phone can be used (11%)
4. All of the above (35%)
Parents were also asked about whether or not they have ever confronted their teen about their inappropriate behavior on social media. 54% of parents said that they have confronted their teens about their impropriate behavior on social media. 50% of parents said they have asked their teen to remove a post on social media that they deemed to be inappropriate.
The full survey results from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago can be seen in the graphics below.
Infographic by: www.luriechildrens.org