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Research on Teens and Social Media Yields Interesting Findings

As we all know, people are much more likely to give unfiltered opinions online than they are in the real world. Somehow, once some people log into their Facebook or Twitter accounts, they let go of many inhibitions they would have about talking negatively about another person or subject.

This is a reason why social media monitoring can be so important; people might be saying things online about your company that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. And nowhere is this notion of unfiltered opinions more prevalent than in the online lives of today’s teenagers.

Social media has been a subject of great concern amongst teens, parents, teachers, and even lawmakers in the past few years. “Cyber bullying” has led to such terrible consequences that the national media has even reported on several instances of it. Thus, with such heavy scrutiny on the social media usage of today’s adolescents, it’s interesting to read the findings of Pew Research’s Amanda Lenhart in her recent report entitled “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites.”

The report yields some surprising results. Despite the negative portrayal of adolescent social media usage by most news outlets, nearly 70% of the over 800 teens surveyed said that they view people are “mostly kind” to one another online. 20% responded that their peers were mostly unkind, while 10% said “it depends.”

Intriguingly, there seems to be a gap between what these teens perceive the online environment to be like, and what they actually experience. A whopping 85% of respondents stated that they have never been targeted by online cruelty.

The study also seems to corroborate an age-old truth that most people discover in their life experience, that people are much kinder and civil to each other once they emerge from their teenage years. Adults over the age of 18 were also surveyed for the study, and only 5% responded that they view their peers as being “mostly unkind” in the social media world, compared to the 20% of teens.

While it seems that the vast majority of teens are having positive experiences on social media platforms, it is important to realize the cyber bullying is still a major problem. After all, those who are in the minority have always seemed to be the ones who get picked on.

For the most part, those who use social media monitoring services target demographics slightly older than adolescents. And since social media is still a very new invention, many of the people who use it now didn’t have the opportunity to do so during their own adolescence. So perhaps once these young users become adults, we may see different kinds of attitudes or feelings being expressed as a result of their social media upbringing.

Stay tuned.

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