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Parens worry about teens on social media

Kids on social media – What the parents worry about

Porn and waste of time are parents’ main concerns when their teens are on social media. Parents have a range of concerns when it comes to their teenagers using social media, with access to explicit content and time-wasting ranking among those at the top of the list, according to a Pew Research Center survey of parents of teens ages 13 to 17 . 

The survey also shows that a majority of parents are keeping a watchful eye on what their teens do on social media. Some are also imposing screen time restrictions on these sites.

46% of parents in the US survey say they are extremely or very worried that their teen’s use of social media could lead to them being exposed to what is described as “explicit content” or more plainly “porn” .

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“The impact of social media on productivity is also a key concern for parents. Some 42% say they are extremely or very worried about their teen wasting too much time on social media, while 38% express the same level of concern about their child being distracted from completing their homework because they are using social media.”

34% are extremely or very worried about their teen sharing too much about their personal life. Roughly three-in-ten say the same about social media leading their teen to feel pressure to act a certain way (32%), be harassed or bullied (29%), experience problems with anxiety or depression (28%) or experience lower self-esteem (27%). Still, about half of parents (47%) say they are only a little or not at all worried about social media causing anxiety or depression in their teens.

Parental concerns about social media vary by race and ethnicity. Hispanic parents are more likely to express a high level of concern about many of these issues compared with Black and White parents. 

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Parental concerns about the impact of social media on their teens’ mental health differ by the child’s gender as well. Parents of teen girls are more likely than parents of teen boys to say they are extremely or very concerned that social media use might lead their teen to experience problems with anxiety and depression (32% vs. 24%) and lower self-esteem (30% vs. 23%).

57% say they at least sometimes check what their teen is doing on social media, while 49% say they often or sometimes limit the times of day or length of time when their teen can go on social media.

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