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New Data on Parents and What it Means for Youth Workers

5 Things You Need to Know

Work with teenagers? Yeah, you also work with parents, right? The folks over at Pew Internet just released a report on parent social media usage, let’s look at some highlights:

  • 74% of parents who use social media get support from their friends there.
  • 59% of social-media-using parents indicate that they have come across useful information specifically about parenting in the last 30 days while looking at other social media content.
  • 12% of all parents of children under 18 say they have ever felt uncomfortable about something posted about their child on social media by a spouse, family member or friend. Fully 88% say they have not felt this way.
  • Parents are particularly active on Facebook and LinkedIn, while non-parents use Instagram more frequently.
    • Parents who use Instagram are not as active as non-parent users. Some 54% of non-parents who use Instagram say they use the site daily, compared with 39% of parents.
  • The typical parent reports a median of 50 “actual” Facebook friends, while the typical non-parent counts 40 of their Facebook friends as “actual” friends.
    • Some 93% of younger parents (those under age 40) who use Facebook are connected with friends from the past.
    • Older parents, those ages 40 and above, are more likely to be friends with their children on Facebook.

What it Means for Youth Workers

  1. Facebook, Facebook, Facebook– the answer is Facebook. While Facebook’s popularity continues to wane with teenagers, Facebook is the dominant player with parents.
  2. Parents are looking for support, encouragement, and affirmation. I often see youth workers using Facebook for communication and resource sharing, this is good but it’s not really what parents are looking for. It can be really hard to gather parents, but many are online and willing to engage already. Consider creating a closed group for parents in your church or community, a safe place where they can encourage one another. Or maybe just make regular passes through parents in your life to be a positive, supportive voice in their life? (Alternatively, consider doing this via LinkedIn… their closed groups offer better moderation features.)
  3. Don’t forget about dads. The data shows that moms use social media more than dads, but not by much.
  4. Post good news about their kids! I think a lot of youth workers worry about that 12% of parents who might be uncomfortable when you post about their kid. Be mindful of them, but don’t forget about the 88% who don’t feel that way. Watch what happens when you post an update about something awesome their kid is doing, this is every parents love language. (Cough, job security alert!)

How are you engaging with parents on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn?