Comment: Survey suggests Facebook's influence on children increasing

A recent survey from National Family Week has suggested that parents could be overestimating the influence that they have on their children compared to that of Facebook.

The study, which was carried out on 3000 parents and 1000 children (who's average age was 11 years old) found that 66 per cent of parents believed that they were the main influence, compared to 49 per cent of children who's perception was that their parents had the most impact on their lives.

In reference to the perceived impact of Facebook: "28 per cent of school-age respondents cited Facebook as most important to them over and above money, health, sport, pets and school, whilst only 23 per cent of parents credit technology as having any impact".

This survey, to our knowledge not in any way linked to Facebook, comes on the back of growing criticism of the social networking site over privacy concerns - which is of particular importance where children are concerned.

What are we then to make of these statistics? Will Facebook's influence one day outstretch that of parents? Very doubtful. More likely, however, is that nothing has changed.

Read between the lines and what the children in the survey appear to be saying is that friends are important to them and Facebook is simply a platform for them to stay in touch. Using technology to communicate is nothing new, and if you asked a similar group of children the same question 15 years ago in relation to the phone, it is quite possible you'd have got a similar response.

It is also important to remember that if you ask younger children - with these formative years arguably being the most crucial in terms of development - who has the most influence on their lives, it is likely that parents would be top of the list. It is likely that the 11-year-olds in this survey are becoming more self-aware and growing in independence, therefore wanting to express detachment from their parents.

What it does highlight, however, is that there are possibly many minors on the social networking site, which is perhaps of a greater concern than any perceived influence. This is not because Facebook, as a construct, is bad per ce but is a platform that has developed quicker than some people's ability to use it responsibly. This includes parents allowing young children access, as it is perhaps more important for children to practice socialising in real life before attempting it virtually.

Are you concerned about the increasing influence of Facebook on our lives? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.



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