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Irish teens obsessed with validation online, new survey finds


Whatsapp (stock photo)

Whatsapp (stock photo)

Whatsapp (stock photo)

A new survey shows that over a third of Irish teenagers using social media stay glued to screens to see if anyone has commented, ‘favourited’ or ‘liked’ content they post.

In a sign of social media’s growing influence on kids’ self-esteem, almost half of teenagers here “always or sometimes” feel disappointed if they don't get a response quickly after they have posted.

The survey, by social media site Ask.fm, asked 206 Irish teenagers and their parents about their attitudes to social life online, privacy and cyber-bullying.

It found that Irish teenagers are almost twice as fearful of being laughed at for talking about a problem on social media as their teenage counterparts in the US. The most common embarrassments identified were romantic “crushes” and problems at home.

The survey also has some interesting findings about teens’ attitude to online anonymity. 46pc of Irish teens say that being anonymous online “allows them to share new ideas without the worry of being made fun of”, according to the survey. And 41pc of teenagers who have been bullied online say they are “more likely to talk about difficult topics online if they were anonymous”.

Only 5pc of Irish teenagers would talk about “difficult topics” on their public profile, compared to 50pc if anonymous, according to the survey.

Both teens and their parents say that bullying is more common in the “real world” than online, it claims. 43pc of parents have been told by their teenaged child that they have been bullied in the physical world compared to only 13pc who have been told about cyberbullying.

Seven out of ten teens told the survey that they would “step in” if they observed bullying happening online.

For parents, the main concern was apparently not about abuse or what their children might see or do while using social media services, but rather the amount of time they spend online (61pc) that could be spent on other activities such as homework.

But Irish parents are more cautious than British ones when it comes to monitoring their teenage childrens’ activity online.

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Four out of five (80pc) of Irish parents say that they monitor their kids’ online activity, compared to just 55pc in the UK. And over a third of parents here (38pc) know their teenage child’s passwords and log into their accounts.

However, a third of Irish parents say that they don’t know how Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter works. These are three of the most popular social media services used by teens in Ireland.

It found that only a quarter of Irish teens feel the need to hide their social media activity from parents with three quarters claiming that they “rarely, or never”  say something they will later regret online.

Ask.fm, which commissioned the survey, has faced sharp criticism in recent years over cyberbullying episodes on its social media service, which is largely used by teenagers. The company has recently changed its procedures, requiring mandatory registering for those who wish to remain anonymous.

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