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Kids, teens and social media

It's commonly accepted that the presence of social media has exploded online in the last few years and has quickly become a fixture in the daily lives of kids - especially teens. But should we believe the hype? For this two-part edition of Kaleidoscope, we partnered with Insight Research Group, which designed this study, to understand the complexity of social media, look at the underlying motivators, and investigate the role social media plays in kids' and teens' lives.
November 25, 2009

It’s commonly accepted that the presence of social media has exploded online in the last few years and has quickly become a fixture in the daily lives of kids – especially teens. But should we believe the hype? For this two-part edition of Kaleidoscope, we partnered with Insight Research Group, which designed this study, to understand the complexity of social media, look at the underlying motivators, and investigate the role social media plays in kids’ and teens’ lives.

With so many questions surrounding how engaged kids and teens are with social platforms (e.g. social networks, texting, etc.) and how they’re virtually interacting with one another, we’ve found the main method kids use to make social connections remains face-to-face communication – despite the heightened chatter. Naturally, as kids get older and enter their teen years, they integrate more interactive social media tools into their repertoire and use them more often than younger kids ages nine to 11.

Building relationships is one of the main drivers for kids and teens to use social platforms, not only enhancing already close relationships but also forming new ones. Notably, there are several other motivations and predictors of social media use that are common across platforms. Kids like to laugh, show their true selves and be uninhibited across all platforms. They use social media to be genuine or true to themselves and not put up a ‘front.’ The perception that a lot of their friends behave similarly also drives use across all platforms, as does the need to find out about new and cool things. When kids use social media, they are always on the prowl, open and receptive to ‘new and cool’ things that feed their interests.

Leaders of the pack

Because the convergence of social media and real-world relationships seems to be happening so seamlessly, social leaders* are key to the overall understanding of how this crossover is taking place and how it continues to develop. Kids who are considered social leaders have on average 7.9 really close friends, compared to an average of 5.5 close friends for those who are not, and are more likely to use more platforms to connect. In fact, they are using an average of 7.6 social platforms to communicate and interact with others at least once per week while non-leaders use 6.3 platforms. A full 60% of social leaders use social networks for fun at least a few days a week versus only 47% of non-leaders. Respectively, 55% versus 35% use IM, while 23% versus 9% use Twitter. Additionally, social leaders are more likely to spread the word, telling other people about new things they like.

Having gained a better understanding of how kids and teens are interacting and using social media, the second part of the report, appearing in the January 2010 issue of KidScreen, will focus on parents and look to understand their perceptions of social media both in their own lives and their kids’ lives. Research designed and analyzed by Insight Research Group with Nickelodeon. For more information, contact Kaleidoscope@nick.com

*In the context of this research, social leaders are defined as those who make friends easily and are usually in charge when they are with their friends.

(Source: Insight Research Group, Sept 09; Touchstone Research, Sept 09. Quant Sample size: N = 1,774 kids ages 9 to 17)

In an effort to keep you in touch with our audience and give a voice to our consumers, the Brand and Consumer Insights Department at Nickelodeon Kids & Family has created Nickelodeon Kaleidoscope. Every month, Kaleidoscope will capture key areas of interest across the kid and family cultural landscape, provide an understanding of attitudes and behaviors, and report on trends and buzz.

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