The internet gets a lot of flak for being a big, bad place where people get harassed and bullied and depressed and anxious and angry and upset and this list could go on forever. But it’s not all bad, especially if you’re a young person trying to make connections in the world. A new study entitled Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences published Wednesday by Pew Research Center surveyed 743 kids between the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States. If you’re a teen, or have spent much time actually talking to teens, the findings are unsurprising and a little heartwarming. If you fall into neither of those categories, they might be a little more surprising. Social media: It’s good!
Mostly, kids are using social media to brag and talk about their families. Great news if you’re a parent worried everything your kid is doing online involves nudes. It probably doesn’t. Forty-nine percent of teens reported posting about accomplishments, followed by family at 44 percent. Political beliefs came in last at just 9 percent. As for purported vanity, about half of teens never or rarely post selfies. (Though girls are reportedly more likely than boys to do so, if they do at all.) And only 15 percent of teens surveyed said they frequently hide content from certain people’s — ahem, parents — eyes. Twenty-nine percent said they never do this. Again, ahem.
But isn’t the internet is a dangerous place ruining our children’s’ minds, you might be asking yourself if you are old. No, it’s not. Seventy-one percent of teens reported they feel more confident and included thanks to social media. Yes, but it can’t be all good, it’s the internet, your old self might still be saying. Okay, fine. It’s not perfect. Four in ten feel pressure to post and 37 percent are concerned with feedback, likes, and comments. But the good, as far as this study is concerned, overwhelmingly outweighs the potentially bad. (Forty-five percent of teens said they’d been affected by online drama, and over half of that group mentioned bullying as a reason for having disconnected with someone.)
Teens, unsurprisingly, credit social media with connecting them with people, including people they might not have otherwise met. Two-thirds of teens surveyed said social media led to interactions with people from different backgrounds. Sixty-six percent said social media is good for supporting causes. And perhaps most comfortingly, only 7 percent of teens reported strongly believing the information they found on social media as “trustworthy.” Another 30 percent reported finding only somewhat trustworthy information.
The kids. They really are all right.