Whats normal for today’s kids? Is your child average?

When it comes to the common behaviours, beliefs and values of today’s kids, we are often hearing sweeping statements such as “kids of today…”, “”we didn’t have to….when I was young”, “they don’t know how good they’ve got it” etc etc

So what are kids really like today? Well in reality they are probably no different to the kids that I hung out with or my parents hung out with. What is different however, is the world in which they are growing up in. I am often reading and researching different statistics as well as interviewing and counselling children on their behaviours and thoughts and so I thought I would compile for you some of the major recurring themes of what the ‘average’ kid is doing and thinking today.  (All stats are from my own surveys with teens and from McAfees recent survey)

 

They want to be private

They want to be private, but mostly they are not. Or at least they want privacy from ‘oldies’ but forget they are hanging out in a public playground that allows viewing by all ages.

  • 95% don’t know all their Facebook friends.
  • 75% of teens surveyed had between 500 and 1000 friends
  • Most are only thinking of 5 to 10 people who they are aiming their status update at when they post, despite the majority having over 500 friends

 

They live in the moment

Often this is a good thing and we don’t want kids to fret about the past or worry too much about the future. With the advances of the online world however, looking beyond the immediate is something all kids need to start thinking about.

  • 45% of teens don’t think about the repercussions of posts in terms of  future employment or school and university entrance despite us knowing that most employers and school registrars will always ‘google’ potentials.

 

They’re not always having fun online

Despite our beliefs that kids want to be online all the time and they are having a great time online, this is not always the case.

  • 62% of kids have experienced negativity online
  • 1 in 4 have experienced bullying

Sometimes kids even actually enjoy the chance to get offline, which usually has to be enforced by others as they struggle to get off it on their own accord. Once they do they have been known to actually ‘enjoy the break’ and the feeling of being socially switched on.

Some of their parents are still naive

  • Of the 62% of kids who had bad experiences, only 25% of their parents knew about these negative experiences
  • 80% of parents say they have had discussions about online privacy but 66% of teens say their parents don’t know all the places they ‘hang out’ online.
  • 37% have blocked posts from their parents on Facebook
  • 85% of parents believe that cyber safety is something that needs addressing once kids are over 10, despite kids as young as 1 swiping iPads, a large majority of 6 and 7 year olds on social networking sites such as Moshi Monsters and Instagram and despite 11 being the average age a child sees online pornography.
  • Many parents still believe Facebook is their greatest concern despite them having a multitude of other sites and apps where they are spending their time.

 

Whilst we know that averages and statistics are just that, it is interesting to take a glimpse of some of the findings that come from studies and observations of today’s kids. Do any of these findings surprise you, or do you think they represent some of the kids you know?

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your personal research here Martine. This is a great article!

    1. Thanks Collett…it is always good to get research yourself, and from kids that are in similiar demographics etc to my own!

  2. I found your site through IBOT.
    Your research mirrors the experiences I have had working with young people and families. Can I have your permission to use your stats when talking to students and families in the future?

    1. Thanks and I am happy for you to use my stats. Most of my own study was done with kids age 13 to 16.

  3. Our school provides students with iPads as an everyday learning tool, and naturally provides them with constant wifi access at the school ground. We are meant to take comfort in the fact that FB is a banned site at school. Never mind that the kids are all too busy instagraming themselves to worry about FB.

    Some really interesting points in here, thanks for sharing.

    Swinging by as part of #teamIBOT and leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses

    1. Thanks Rhianna. Yes I think it is dangerous to rely on banning sites without giving kids the proper skills to use all different sites. They will always find somewhere else to hang out!

  4. The one about not knowing FB friends freaks me out! I cull anyone who hasn’t actively participated in my page in 3 to 6 months, I bet kids just want masses of friends! It’s a scary world out there nowadays 🙁

    1. It is a really difficult aspect of kids online use as they still see it as a status thing to have lots of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ regardless of whether they actually know them. Trying not to rely on this for our kids self esteem is something I am constantly trying to get across to kids…but it isnt easy!

  5. Hi Martine, another set of research (how cool that you have your own stats!-sorry I digress) that scares me since I only have young kids but very wary of this as they get older. My hubby saw his underage niece on FB doing rather questionable things,he told his sister & hubby. They then told my hubby to mind his own business. They then blocked my hubby from the kids FB pages. SIL & BIL are still not on FB. Sorry that story was rather long winded but proves your statistics are spot on. Very interesting stuff.

    1. Wow. I know it’s hard sometimes when other people tell you something you don’t want to hear, but even if your husband was over-reacting (not saying he was) you’d still have to be grateful that he cares, even if he doesn’t get it. All I can imagine is that they were embarrassed and didn’t know how to handle it. I really believe parents have a duty to be on Facebook, and at least checking all the other online spaces your kids hang out – especially Tumblr. I know it can be confusing or challenging for people who aren’t “technical”, but I really believe it’s an essential parenting duty. And this is a long-winded comment on your comment!

      1. Very true Rachel. I think many people also think they have Facebook covered but forget that their kids are more likely hanging out on Tumblr.

    2. Wow, what a bizarre reaction from them. I think it is important that parents have their attention bought to questionable stuff. I know I will be happy for my friends to point this out to me. It is not always about the kids being bad, or the parents being bad parents, rather it is more about kids still learning themselves how to use this space. We need to keep on eye on them whilst they learn these skills.

  6. Thanks Martine for sharing – and for making the point that kids aren’t that different (don’t you hate that “kids in my day” rubbish). The ways that they are different that I notice is that they are more aware of and confident in their sexuality, which can have good and bad consequences, and generally a bit more sophisticated than our generation was (or maybe than I was 🙂 ).

    The point you made that resonated the most with me was: “Sometimes kids even actually enjoy the chance to get offline, which usually has to be enforced by others as they struggle to get off it on their own accord. Once they do they have been known to actually ‘enjoy the break’ and the feeling of being socially switched on.” I would agree wholeheartedly, and I used to quite like it when my young teenager lost Internet/screen privileges because instead of being on her computer she would write music, do art and cook. I think she liked it too.

    1. I think everyone thinks kids just want to be on the screens all day everyday, but I think it is our job to help them see that this doesnt have to be the case and that yes they will enjoy the time spent offline.

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