Commentary

Parents Worry Social Media Undermines Kids' Moral Development

Social media is a great way to meet people but it may not be so good at teaching you how to treat them. In fact, around half of British parents polled by researchers at the University of Birmingham and the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues think that social media is undermining their children’s moral development.

The researchers asked 1,700 parents with kids ages 11-17 about the impact of social media on their kids and found that 40% of respondents were either “concerned” or “extremely concerned” that social media had harmful effects on their children’s characters, while just 15% said they thought social media had a generally positive influence.

Asked which negative character qualities they believed were amplified by social media, 60% of British parents named anger and hostility, while 51% said arrogance, 43% ignorance, 41% bad judgment, 36% hatred and 30% vanity. Asked which positive character qualities they believed were least represented on social media, 24% named forgiveness, 24% self-control, 21% honesty, 20% fairness and 18% humility.

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Earlier this year I wrote about a separate survey that found parents are concerned social media is contributing to stress in their teenage children. The WebMD Teens and Stress Consumer Survey of 579 parents of teens found that over half of respondents, 55%, rated their teens’ stress level as moderate or high, with teen girls in particular reporting high levels of stress resulting from their online social networks.

Meanwhile another survey of parents by Pew Research Center found that 60% of respondents with children ages 13-17 have checked their teens’ social media profiles to make sure they’re not doing something harmful to themselves or others.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media also contributes to anxiety in parents themselves. According to a study from Deakin University in Australia, mothers of young children who spend more time on social media are more likely to report feelings of anxiety than peers who spend less time on social media. The researchers polled 528 mothers of pre-school aged children, and found that their levels of self-reported anxiety rose with each additional hour they spent online, with women ages 25-44 twice as likely to report feelings of anxiety as men were in previous studies.

3 comments about "Parents Worry Social Media Undermines Kids' Moral Development".
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  1. brad berger from aim high tips, July 15, 2016 at 3:14 p.m.

    Eric the free www.aimhightips.com teach kids wisdom they must know and helps them have better lives. It is the most important universal content platform in the world https://bradberger29.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/make-billions/
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  2. Aarona Jordan from CBS Digital, July 15, 2016 at 4:35 p.m.

    Wow, clearly Donald Trump spends a lot of time on social media..

  3. mjc CC from Foreign Language League Inc., July 16, 2016 at 11:25 a.m.

    as a mom of 4 kids and teacher, i don't believe social media was created for kids, but it has certainly become their world. The newest studies state that kids/teens spend up to 9 hours a day in front of the screen. That is a staggering and disconcerting statistic. Parents should be concerned about 1. the amount of time their kids are spending (wasting) on social media and 2. the content of what they're doing/seeing.  I don't know one kid that is responsible enough to self regulate and not be drawn to inappropriate content (violence, novelty, racist, pornographic, sexualized, graphic text and images).  How can it not be affecting our kids?  All media is educational right? just some better for them than others. Parents need to help direct, guide and educate their kids- otherwise it's just a free for all.

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