Kids’ use of internet and social media is increasing

31 percent of teens say social media has positive benefits, 24 percent believe it is negative.

Many young people and adults are concerned about the presence and impacts of negative online behaviors, cyberbullying and cyber safety. These concerns about electronic aggression are understandable given the significant role of media in our daily lives.

Today’s young people, considered digital natives, have been raised in a world immersed in digital technology. The amount of time they spend with these technologies can seem astounding. According to a 2015 study by Common Sense Media, tweens ages 8-12 spend nearly six hours daily while teenagers ages 13-18 spend almost nine hours a day seven days a week with various forms of media, including television, music, computers, video games, print and movies.

With the growth of social networking sites, these online spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat have become a considerable part of kids’ daily media diet. The good news is that many young people have reported that their peers are mostly kind to one another on networking sites. In a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 76 percent of online teens shared that they had positive or neutral attitudes about their online interactions that made them feel both good about themselves and closer to others.

Negative effects of online behaviors are also common. 24 percent of online youth state that social media has had a mostly negative effect on their lives. Of those who listed social media’s negative effects, 27 percent cite bullying or rumor spreading as a major issue, 17 percent say social media harms relationships, 14 percent believe it is distracting or addictive and 15 percent state that social media presence paints an unrealistic view of others’ lives.

Young people also shared that they rely heavily on the adults in their lives, especially parents and teachers, to help them use the internet responsibly and safely. To be effective resources for youth, it’s important that adults have a good understanding of where and how often young people are hanging out online and the qualities of these cyber experiences.

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