May 16, 2022

New Report from Pew Internet & American Life Project: Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Cable in the Classroom, and Family Online Safety Institute.

Title: Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites: How American teens navigate the new world of “digital citizenship”

Authors: Amanda Lenhart, Mary Madden, Aaron Smith, Kristen Purcell, Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie

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From the Summary of Findings:

Social media use has become so pervasive in the lives of American teens that having a presence on a social network site is almost synonymous with being online. Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites.1 Many log on daily to their social network pages and these have become spaces where much of the social activity of teen life is echoed and amplified—in both good and bad ways.

We focused our attention in this research on social network sites because we wanted to understand the types of experiences teens are having there and how they are addressing negative behavior when they see it or experience it. As they navigate challenging social interactions online, who is influencing their sense of what it means to be a good or bad “digital citizen”? How often do they intervene to stand up for others? How often do they join in the mean behavior?

In our survey, we follow teens’ experiences of online cruelty – either personally felt or observed – from incident to resolution. We asked them about how they reacted to the experience and how they saw others react. We asked them about whether they have received and where they sought advice – both general advice about online safety and responsibility and specific advice on how to handle a witnessed experience of online cruelty on a social network site.

We also probed the environment around teens’ online experiences by examining their privacy controls and practices, as well as the level of regulation of their online environment by their parents. We further sought insight into more serious experiences that teens have in their lives, including bullying both on- and offline and the exchange of sexually charged digital images.

The report is organized into multiple parts including:

Here’s a Selection of Facts, Stats, and Charts from the 85 Page Report

Internet use is nearly universal among American teens; 95% of those ages 12-17 are internet users, up slightly from November 2004 (when 87% of teens went online). Internet usage is higher among teens than among adults as a whole (as of August 2011, 78% of all adults go online), although internet adoption rates among adults ages 18-29 are identical to those found among teens.

Teen internet use has intensified over the years. In this sample, 70% of teen internet users say they go online daily: 46% do so several times a day and an additional 24% do so about once a day. One-quarter (24%) go online weekly, while the remaining 6% go online every few weeks or less often. The proportion of teen internet users who go online several times a day has nearly doubled since November 2004 (at that point, 24% of teen internet users reported going online several times a day) and has increased by 10 percentage points since September 2009, when 36% of teen internet users reported going online multiple times per day.

In addition to asking about general social media usage, we also included a question on our July survey asking about the specific social media sites on which teens have actually created an account. Overall, Facebook is the dominant social media site among teens, as 93% of teen social media users have a Facebook account. MySpace ranks a distant second in overall usage, with 24% of teen social media users having an account on this site.

What we’ve shared is a only small portion from first section of the FIVE section report.

Important, useful and incredibly interesting research. Kudos to the Pew Internet & American Life research team.

Direct to Complete HTML Version ||| PDF Version (86 Pages)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.