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The following facts and statistics explore teen internet use: Everything from what teens do online to the people they interact with in cyberspace. Learn more about the role the internet plays in the lives of American teenagers.

  • Kids reveal quite a bit about themselves online, according to a study in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Twenty-four percent mention sex, 41% reference substance abuse, and 14% talk about violence on their MySpace pages. (Szabo, 1-6-09)
  • A 2008 study by the University of California shows that most teens use the Internet to interact with people they already know. Only 5% said they had friends known only from the Internet. Forty-four percent of teens said using social networking sites had no effect on their relationship with their friends. Forty-three percent said it made them closer. (Jayson, 4-2-09)
  • 73% of teens check social networking sites at least twice daily, including 21% who visit more than 10 times every day. (Common Sense Media, August 2009)

Teens & internet bullying

Online harassment of American young people ages 10 to 17 increased 50% (from 6% to 9%) from 2000 to 2005, according to the latest research available by the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center. The number of young people who said they had “made rude or nasty comments to someone on the Internet” increased from 14% to 28% in the same period. (Kornblum, 7-15-08) 160,000 kids stay home from school each and every day because they’re afraid of bullying. (ABC News, 3-15-09)

Only 5% of teens say they would tell their parents or another trusted adult if they were being cyber-bullied. The main reasons that keep teens from speaking up: Fear of an over-reaction by parents, or that adults will “freak out”; fear that it may lead to parents sanctioning their online activities or otherwise result in lost privileges; or fears that the adult will go to other parents and make a big mess out of the situation. (PBS, 12-30-2009)

So parents: if you want your teen to confide in you, you must be willing to adopt a supportive role without “freaking out,” and intervene in ways that let your teen control the situation.

Online harassment has been trending steadily upwards over the past decade, increasing 50% from 2000 to 2005, with 9% of young people ages 10 to 17 reporting online harassment and 28% of kids admitting they had “made rude or nasty comments to someone on the Internet.” (Kornblum, 7-15-2008)

39% of Americans, 9- to 17-year-olds say the information they find online is always correct. (Time, 10-18-2010 p. 20)

Teens & social media

A recent study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project surveyed 799 adolescents ages 12 to 17 and a parent or guardian regarding the teens internet use. Here’s what they found:

  • 93% of teens surveyed say they have an account on Facebook and 62% say that they profile they most often use is set to private so that only friends can see their postings.
  • 86% of teens say they have received advice from parents about how to be safe online.
  • 55% of teens say they don’t post content that might reflect poorly on them in the future.
  • 22% have had an experience on social media that ended a friendship with someone.
  • 41% reported negative experiences on line, but 65% say they have also had an experience that made them feel good about themselves, and 58% say a site has made them feel closer to another person.
  • More than 80% of teens who use social media have witnessed others demean or being mean or cruel on the site, and about a quarter say they have had an interaction that resulted in a face-to-face confrontation later.
  • Where teens turn for guidance after witnessing online cruelty: 1) friend or peer: 53%   2)  parent: 36%;  3) brother, sister, cousin: 5%;  4) teacher: 3%;  5) don’t know: 2%;  6) someone or something else: 1%
  • According to one recent pole, 22% of teens log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than 1/2 of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. (Hellmich, 3/28/2011)

(Pew Research Center, 2011; Linke, 11/9/2011)

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