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Parents: They’re just like the rest of us.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center contains some surprising findings about parents’ use of the Internet. While young people tend to think of their parents as low-tech squares, Pew’s findings suggest that that’s not entirely true.
Here are five facts about your mom—if she’s representative of Pew’s findings—that you might find interesting.
1) She’s using social media
Pew found that 75 percent of parents use social media. That’s right—your mom’s probably on Twitter. Sure, she might have joined the social network to monitor you, but she’s also using it for herself. To wit…
2) She’s getting support from her friends
Just as their children develop friendships online, 74 percent of parents who use social media get support from their friends there. Women fare slightly better, with 45 percent of mothers who use social media saying they “strongly agree” that they get support from friends on social media, compared with 22 percent of fathers. Don’t worry—your mom is still massively uncool. Because…
3) She actually responds to questions online
That’s right. Your mom presumes that if you ask a question, you’re not being a wise guy—you actually need the answer. Pew found that 71 percent of parents on social media try to respond if they know the answer to a question posed by someone in their online network. The percentages are roughly the same for moms and dads.
4) She’s a social-media maven
Parents don’t just use Facebook; they use a variety of platforms. And they do so about as much as non-parents. Three-quarters of parents use Facebook (vs. 70 percent of non-parents), 28 percent use Pinterest, and 27 percent use LinkedIn. A quarter of parents use Instagram (the percentage for parents under 40 is slightly higher) and about a quarter of them use Twitter.
5) She shares things on Facebook with wild abandon
Parents share photos of their kids like there’s nothing else on the Internet. They are most definitely not on social media to lurk. Pew found that 94 percent of parents on Facebook share posts, links, and pictures there. Nearly all parents on Facebook are connected to their real-life friends (88 percent) and to family members (93 percent).
If Pew’s findings tell us anything, it’s that, in many ways, parents are just like us: keen on using social media to keep up with friends, share funny photos, and discuss whatever’s happening in the world in 140 characters or less.
So the next time you have dinner with your parents, ask your mom for her Twitter username. You never call and you never write—a tweet is the least you can do.
Photo via knightfoundation/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
Curt Hopkins has over two decades of experience as a journalist, editorial strategist, and social media manager. His work has been published by Ars Technica, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. He is the also founding director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers, the first organization devoted to global free speech rights for bloggers