Is Social Networking Changing Childhood?

National Poll Reveals a Disconnect Between Parents and Teens on the Role That Social Networking Plays in Their Lives
For immediate release
Monday, August 10, 2009

For full poll coverage, including the full poll results, visit  www.commonsensemedia.org/research 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Common Sense Media today released the results of a national poll of teens and parents on social networking behaviors. The poll, conducted by The Benenson Strategy Group, illustrated that kids increasingly connect with friends, classmates, and people with similar interests through social networks – and that parents are out of the loop.

According to the poll’s key findings, teens admit to many behaviors while using social networks:

  • 22% of teens check social networking sites more than 10 times a day, while only 4% of parents believe kids are checking that much
  • 51% of teens check social networking sites more than once a day, while only 23% of parents say their kids check more than once a day
  • 28% have shared personal information that they normally wouldn't have shared in public
  • 25% have shared a profile with a false identity
  • 39% have posted something they regretted
  • 26% have pretended to be someone else online
  • 54% have joined an online community or Facebook/MySpace group in support of a cause
  • 34% have volunteered for a campaign, nonprofit, or charity

“In today’s digital environment, parents have less time to supervise their kids’ behavior,” said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “Communication and socialization in our kids’ world is increasingly moving from face-to-face to face-to-cyberspace, and parents vastly underestimate the amount of time that kids spend on their networks. That makes it more challenging for parents to actually parent in the crucial areas of social interaction and development, and, in a digital world, parents need to play a more important role than ever in ensuring that our kids get the best of these technologies and are using them safely.”

Social networks and mobile communication connect kids to their friends 24/7. For the most part, conversations that start in the classroom hallway more or less continue in digital space. Teens are using social networks to share information, make connections, and develop their identities in new, exciting ways. But when teens communicate either anonymously or through a disguised identity, the doors are left wide open for them to not be held accountable. That kind of communication also leads to a disconnect between actions and their consequences, which is how irresponsible behaviors like cyberbullying become a reality.

Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to helping kids use the same senses of responsibility and self-respect in their online worlds as they do offline. Common Sense Media urges families to keep up regular conversations about life in a digital world and what it means to be safe, smart digital citizens.

To find out more about what teens are doing on social networks, as well as get full poll results, parent tips, and more, visit www.commonsensemedia.org/research.

To set up an interview with our experts, please use the contact information below.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the impact of media and entertainment on kids and families. Common Sense Media provides trustworthy ratings and reviews of media and entertainment based on child development criteria created by leading national experts. For more information, visit www.commonsensemedia.org.

About The Benenson Strategy Group
The Benenson Strategy Group is a nationally recognized strategic research and consulting firm with a reputation for being energetic, fast-paced, and analytically aggressive. Founded in 2001, The Benenson Strategy Group’s clients include major nonprofit organizations, President Barack Obama, governors, U.S. Senators, members of Congress, international labor unions, and Fortune 100 companies. For more information, visit www.bsgco.com.

Press Contacts:
Marlene Saritzky
Vice President of Communications, Common Sense Media
415-553-6768 (direct)
415-713-1241 (cell)
msaritzky@commonsensemedia.org

Marisa Connolly
Communications Manager, Common Sense Media
415-553-6703 (direct)
617-699-4235 (cell)
mconnolly@commonsensemedia.org