Science, Technology, and Social Media

Survey: Parents and kids worlds apart on social media

Common Sense and SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading People Powered Data platform, released the results of a survey of parents and teens on the subject of social media that finds a major disconnect between what parents feel they know about their kids’ online activities and how kids view their parents’ awareness of what they are actually doing. The “Social Media Disconnect” survey is the first in a new quarterly series of polls the two organizations will conduct of parents and kids about the most concerning technology challenges families are dealing with.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • Parents feel they know what teens are doing online, but teens don’t think so: More than half (52 percent) of parents with teenagers age 14 to 17 say they are “extremely” or “very aware” of what their kids are doing online; just 30 percent of teens say their parents are “extremely” or “very aware” of what they’re doing online.
  • Parents are tracking their teens more than teens know: 26 percent of parents say they use a tracking or monitoring device or service to learn what their teens are doing online, while only 15 percent of kids think their parents do so.
  • Teens are more honest than their parents give them credit for: 34 percent of parents believe their teens have hidden online accounts, but only 27 percent of teens say they do.
  • Parents are most nervous about Snapchat: Snapchat (29 percent) is the app parents are most concerned about, much more than Facebook (16 percent). Only 6 percent of parents are nervous about Instagram. Some parents aren’t nervous at all about the apps their teens use: One-fifth (20 percent) say no apps/websites are concerning.
  • Older parents feel they are less aware of what their teens are doing online: Younger parents are more likely to say that they are more aware of what their teens are doing online. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of parents age 18 to 34 say they are “extremely” or “very aware” of what their teens are doing online; less than half (46 percent) of parents 55 and older say the same.
  • Facebook and Twitter aren’t cool: More than three-quarters of teens use Instagram and Snapchat (77 percent each), but just half use Facebook (49 percent) and fewer use Twitter (42 percent).
  • Parents follow their kids on Facebook, but not much on other platforms: A large majority of teens who use Facebook (79 percent) are friends with their parents on the platform. Fewer of those who use Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter follow or are friends with their parents on those platforms (46 percent, 27 percent, and 18 percent, respectively).

James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense, stated, “Kids are constantly experimenting with new technologies, and it is extremely challenging for parents to keep up. We have to check the pulse of parents and kids regularly on these issues in order to help families navigate the media landscape and make smart decisions. We are thrilled to partner with SurveyMonkey on this ongoing research initiative that will help us identify media use trends and concerns in real time so that we can provide timely advice and information to parents.”

“We believe in the transformative power of asking questions to unlock the meaning behind data. Today’s ever-changing digital world presents a steep challenge for parents to understand what their kids are doing and thinking,” said Jon Cohen, Chief Research Officer, SurveyMonkey. “By partnering with Common Sense, a trusted source for parents to get the most out of technology, we’re able to engage both parents and kids in a critical conversation about how one another really use social media.”

Visit for more information and tips and guidance for parents looking to make sense of their teens’ digital lives.

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Rich Mitchell

Rich Mitchell is the editor-in-chief of Conservative Daily News and the president of Bald Eagle Media, LLC. His posts may contain opinions that are his own and are not necessarily shared by Bald Eagle Media, CDN, staff or .. much of anyone else. Find him on twitter, facebook and

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