As Digital and Offline Lives Merge, 8 Out of 10 US Teens Post to Social Media Without a Second Thought

Multi-Country Study Reveals Evolving Teen Attitudes and Usage When It Comes to the World's Most Popular Social Apps

Aug 27, 2015, 08:00 ET from

DUBLIN, Aug. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --, the world's largest social Q&A network, today announced findings from Digital Families 2015: Evolving Attitudes Around Social Media and App Use, its study of social network and mobile app use and perceptions among both teens and their parents across the US, UK and Ireland.

Key among the findings in the US was 61 percent of teens say it doesn't matter whether parents follow them on social media, and 79 percent indicate they rarely say things online they regret, which demonstrates the extent to which digital behavior has increasingly become a casual extension of everyday life for today's digitally native teen population.

According to the study, teens may be right not to worry about parents keeping tabs on their online behavior. While half of parents (52 percent) say their biggest concern is how much time their teen spends on social media, more than two in five (43 percent) admitted they do not monitor their teen's digital activity. In addition, while the overwhelming majority of parents (88 percent) say they are aware of all or most of the social networks or apps their teens engage with, many have not created accounts on these services. For example, Snapchat and Instagram are among the top five social networks American teenagers say they use, yet almost half of American parents have never used them before (49 percent and 45 percent, respectively).

"Teens have grown up online; it is core to how they communicate with the outside world on a daily basis, so it's understandable most feel they have nothing to hide or regret when it comes to their digital behavior. To them, it's simply an extension of their everyday, real world lives," said Catherine Teitelbaum, chief trust and safety officer at "This casual attitude reminds us there is still work to do when it comes to educating teens and parents on the unique risks inherent in digital communication, and the steps parents and families should take to ensure a safer and more positive experience."

The multi-country study, Digital Families 2015: Evolving Attitudes Around Social Media and App Use, was conducted online by YouGov on behalf of from May 29 to June 3, 2015 among 2,905 respondents (1,060 US respondents), which include 13-18-year-olds and their parents. Results from the UK and Ireland versions of the study can be found here.

Findings from the US portion of Digital Families 2015: Evolving Attitudes Around Social Media and App Use include:

What Drives Usage: FOMO and Affirmation

While parents say their biggest concern is how much time teens spend on social apps and whether it's distracting from other activities (52 percent), more than 43 percent are not tracking their teen's social media usage.

  • For teens, motivation to post to their favorite service is most commonly based on:
    • Whether certain people – including specific friends, a crush or a boyfriend/girlfriend – will likely see the post (45 percent);
    • How they will be perceived – e.g. cute, funny, sexy, etc. (43 percent);
    • How many likes or comments they think a post will receive (40 percent);
    • Whether or not the post is appropriate (39 percent).
  • A third (33 percent) of American teens check to see if comments were made on their posts within minutes, and more than one-third (38 percent) feel disappointed if they don't get responses quickly.
  • When asked if they are embarrassed to talk about common topics discussed on social sites and apps, such as a crush/boyfriend/girlfriend, problems at home, or with family members and/or friends, US and UK teens are most embarrassed to talk about how they feel about themselves (9 percent and 10 percent, respectively). Their Irish counterparts are most embarrassed to talk about how they look (15 percent).
  • Irish and British teens are most fearful of being laughed at for talking about these topics online (54 percent and 49 percent, respectively), while American teens are less concerned (32 percent).

Attitudes Toward Anonymity: Sharing What They Really Feel

Despite the tendency to broadcast every moment of their lives online, there are scenarios in which teens prefer to remain anonymous. Two in five teens (40 percent) say being anonymous online makes it easier to talk about difficult topics, while only 4 percent say they would talk about those same issues under a profile tied to their identity.

  • More than half of teens (51 percent) say being anonymous online allows them to share new ideas without worry of being made fun of, and 47 percent say it allows them to share their real feelings.
  • More than one in 10 US teens say they use social apps or sites that allow them to ask questions/comments anonymously because:
    • There are certain topics they don't feel comfortable talking about publicly (15 percent);
    • They don't want to look dumb asking a question to which they don't know the answer (15 percent);
    • They want to find out what someone thinks about them (12 percent).

Cyberbullying: Teens Take a Stand

  • While 8 in 10 parents say they are concerned about their teen's amount of social media use, bullying ranks lowest among concerns. The top concern is app use being a distraction from homework or other positive activities.
  • Thirty-nine percent of teens admit to being bullied in person, while 15 percent said they have experienced cyberbullying.
  • More parents say their kids have experienced bullying in the physical world (38 percent) versus cyberbullying (10 percent).
  • Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of teens say they'd step in if they saw someone being bullied.
  • More than half of teens (52 percent) have blocked another person from contacting them on a social network.
  • Almost all teenagers believe cyberbullying should have consequences and social platforms have a responsibility in holding bullies accountable; only 5 percent say social networks should do nothing.

"We share teens' view that networks must take abuse on their respective platforms seriously, and hold bullies accountable for their actions," said Teitelbaum. "Our goal is to make it increasingly easier for users to block and report harmful behavior, and we'll continue to seek input from teens on how we can best empower them to call out bad behavior when they see it."

Please visit's Safety Center for additional survey findings and more information and tips on how to help teens make safe and healthy choices online.

About is the world's largest Q&A social network where more than 150 million members in more than 150 countries connect and engage by asking each other questions. is operated by, the leading brand for online questions and answers and an operating business of IAC.