Social media can be dangerous if used destructively.
Over half of parents are very concerned about how much time teens spend scrolling through their social feeds, according to a study just conducted by social Q&A platform Ask.fm that assessed the evolving social media behaviour of the younger generation.
And yet 43 per cent of parents don’t keep tabs on their teens and their online activity, according to the study, although 88 per cent are fully aware of all or most social media that their sons and daughters are engaging in. The study also revealed that 8 out of 10 teens are likely to post a picture, status, or tweet without a second thought.
According to Catherine Teitelbaum, Chief Trust and Safety Officer of Ask.fm, these results aren’t as negative as you think.
“We think that this is proof that educators have successfully beat a message of a digital footprint into the teens,” Teitelbaum told Business Insider on Wednesday. “It’s come to a point where posting a status is just an extension of daily behaviour, with no regrets. Parents are also comfortable with that to the point where they don’t need to follow them — this is a real shift, and confirmation that social media is so baked into the fabric of our everyday lives.”
But the rise of apps allowing the option of anonymity like Reddit, Yik Yak, What’s Goodly, and Ask.fm itself can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying. And it seems like cyberbullying isn’t ruffling many parents’ feathers — while “take time away from homework or other positive activities” tops the list of concerns.
In other positive news, Teitelbaum says this use of anonymity has also evolved.
“Anonymity is gaining momentum across the industry, with that, apps have build in great robust guardrails of moderation, filtering, reporting and blocking,” Teitelbaum said. “Ask.fm itself practices anonymity with a responsibility — you need to have a profile and need to be logged in to make comments, and you’re held accountable for your actions.”
Teitelbaum argues that cutting the identity out of the picture has instead created a safe space where internet comments can bounce back and forth freely, but that’s not to say that cyberbullying isn’t still an issue to address. Teens, and most people, can receive positive affirmation of their opinions without their real world communities raining down on them.
“Anonymous compliments carry a more positive effect to the receiver because they’re viewed as being completely honest,” Teitelbaum said.
See the other findings from the study here.