Social Networking

Social Networking

In the online world, social networking sites have become a predominant forum for kids to express themselves, seek approval, and describe their interests. One of the defining features of most social networking pages is the audiovisual clutter;  these sites often resemble high school yearbooks or scrapbooks. Teens use these pages as a place to feature everything in their heads or on their hearts. The central feature of these sites is the ability to connect with people and share information.

What is a social networking site?

  • Social networking sites are virtual communities.
  • Kids convene on these sites to chat, IM, post pictures, and blog (journal).
  • They appeal to teens because they provide instant community, instant celebrity, and encompass so many of the online tools and entertainment activities that teens know and love.
  • They provide access to real-time and asynchronous communication features; blogging tools; photo-, music-, and video-sharing features; and the ability to post original creative work—all linked to a unique profile that can be customized and updated on a regular basis. 
Teens are posting a tremendous amount of information on their online profiles, so it is highly important that teens use strict privacy settings and are knowledgeable about the individuals they allow to view their social networking profile. Since kids are often trying to obtain the attention of and gain approval from their peers, some teens tend to post content to appear popular, or  gain a response from others in their online community.  Teens jockey for status, post risqué pictures, brag about the previous weekend’s adventures, and can easily use this digital space to humiliate others or post inappropriate content. No information is truly private in the online world; an online “friend” can forward any information posted on your child’s site in a moment.
  • Public profiles put kids at a much greater risk to:
  • Receive a message from a stranger
  • Meet with a stranger
  • Be harassed by peers
  • Other concerns of social networking sites:
  • Lack of age-verification mechanisms
  • Posting provocative pictures and videos
  • Easy access for predators and cyberbullies
  • Excessive or addictive access
  • Access to unhealthy “groups”

Facebook, Twitter, Social Networking: Good or Bad for Kids Brain? to read the article click here

For a detailed demographic portrait of users of various social networking sites from September 2014, please see the recent report, Social Media Update 2014

Social Networking Statistics

  • Between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites among young adult internet users ages 18-29 jumped from 9% to 49%. Social networking site use by age group, over time:

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  • 15% of Americans have never checked their social networking privacy and security account settings. (National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-MacAfee Online Safety Study, 2011)

  • 69% of social media-using teens think that peers are mostly kind to each other on social networking sites; however, 88% of teens have seen someone be mean or cruel to another person on a social networking site. (Pew Research Center, FOSI, Cable in the Classroom, 2011)

  • 41% of social media-using teens have experienced at least one negative outcome as a result of using a social networking site. (Pew Research Center, FOSI, Cable in the Classroom, 2011)

    • 25% have had an experience that led to a face-to-face argument or confrontation.

    • 22% have had an experience that ended their friendship with someone.

    • 13% have had an experience that caused a problem with their parents.

    • 8% have gotten into a physical fight with someone else because of something that happened on a social networking site.

    • 6% have gotten in trouble at school because of an experience on a social networking site.

  • 29% of Internet sex crime relationships were initiated on a social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 2010)

  • In 26% of online sex crimes against minors, offenders disseminated information and/or pictures of the victim through the victim's personal social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)

  • 33% of all Internet-initiated sex crimes involved social networking sites. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)

  • 26% of Americans say they are sharing more information on social networks today than one year ago. (National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-MacAfee Online Safety Study, 2011)

  • 24% of Americans say they are not at all confident in their ability to use privacy settings. (National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)-MacAfee Online Safety Study, 2011)

  • In half of all sex crimes against a minor involving a social networking site, the social networking site was used to initiate the relationship. (Journal of Adolescent Health 47, 2010)

  • Cases of Internet sex crimes against children involving social networking sites were more likely to result in a face-to-face meeting. This was true of 81% of Internet-initiated crimes involving a social networking site. (Journal of Adolescent Health 27, 2010)

For more statistics, visit http://www.pewinternet.org/2007/12/19/teens-and-social-media/, https://www.staysafeonline.org/

List of most current social networking sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • Pinterest
  • Vine
  • Snapchat
  • Youtube
  • Kik
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit