US teens drawn to social media despite 'drama'

The survey confirmed that Facebook had been overtaken by rivals as the most popular social media application.
The survey confirmed that Facebook had been overtaken by rivals as the most popular social media application.PHOTO: ST FILE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - American teenagers remain generally upbeat about social media, saying it helps them feel included and connected, despite persistent problems of social pressure and bullying, a study showed on Wednesday (Nov 28).

The Pew Research Centre report found a strong majority of the 13- to 17-year-olds had positive rather than negative feelings about their social media experiences.

The nationally representative survey found 81 per cent of teens said social media makes them feel more connected to their friends.

And 97 per cent said they used at least one of the seven major online platforms that were queried in the survey.

The survey also highlighted a number of the negative aspects of social media which have drawn attention recently including peer pressure and bullying, but said teens appeared to see more good than bad in their online experiences.

More teens - 71 per cent to 25 per cent - said that social media makes them feel included rather than excluded, confident rather than insecure (69 to 26 per cent), authentic rather than fake (64 to 33 per cent) and outgoing rather than reserved (61 to 34 per cent).

Many of the teens also said social media can help them become more civic-minded and exposes them to greater diversity than in the offline world.

Large percentages said social networks help them meet people with similar interests and making them feel more accepted.

Still, 45 per cent of teens say they feel overwhelmed by the "drama" on social media. Among those who have disconnected, more than three-fourths cited excessive "drama".

Some 43 per cent said they feel pressure to only post content that makes them look good to others.

Nearly half of the teens said they at least sometimes unfriend or unfollow people on social media.

The survey did not ask about experiences with specific social networks but included data confirming that Facebook had been overtaken by rivals as the most popular social media application.

It found Facebook-owned Instagram used by 72 per cent of the teens, with Snapchat at 69 per cent and Facebook 51 per cent. Twitter was used by 32 per cent.

The report was based on a survey of 743 teens from randomly selected households between March 7 to April 10, with an estimated margin of error of five percentage points.