Young adults, parents and social media

Here is a study we conducted with Nickelodeon and Insight Research Group that was featured in Nickeldeon’s Kaleidoscope in Kidscreen™ magazine. The topic of this study was “Young adults, Parents, and Social Media”.

In last month’s Kaleidoscope, we explored social media and the role it plays in kids’ and teens’ lives. After coming away with a better understanding of their motivators and how the medium manifests in their world, we’re turning our attention to adults. Through our continued partnership with Insight Research Group, we dove into the second half of this research seeking to understand how young adults ages 18 to 24 and parents of kids ages nine to 17 inhabit the social media landscape.

Like kids, young adults and parents are leveraging multiple platforms as an extension of their relationships with friends and family to feel closer and to make new friends. A full 66% of parents and 78% of young adults who text message said they feel closer to their friends afterwards. This is also true of 71% of parents and 74% of young adults who IM, and 79% of parents and 74% of young adults who use social networking sites. While research tells us that most kids have yet to incorporate Twitter into their social media sphere, we do see a Twitter story unfolding with the older generations. Parents (71%) and young adults (54%) who use Twitter say it’s become a new method to make friends. This is also true for those who use social networks.

As teens grow into young adults, they remain active social media users. For example, 67% of teens ages 15 to 17 and young adults send text messages every day for fun, and 60% of young adults access social networks daily (this number grows from for teens.)

E-mail rounds out daily social media usage, with 55% of teens and 77% of young adults accessing e-mail everyday.

As young adults grow into parents, they adopt a back-to-basics approach to social media. The demo isn’t abandoning social media, but it does tend to focus on tools with which it’s most familiar. It’s likely to assume this behavior occurs because either young parents don’t have time or older

parents who didn’t grow up with newer social platforms, have less familiarity with them and just aren’t as comfortable with these digital tools.

So, what are the underlying drivers and benefits of social media? It varies depending on the medium. Social networking has the ability to let users view their likes as being the same as their friends and to show off things they’re proud of. It’s also a powerful mechanism for exploring, defining and expressing themselves. E-mail serves a similar function. Those who e-mail others “for fun” believe it’s a way to “help people get to know me better” and “learn more about who I am, and who I want to be.” Drivers for gaming include social currency (“After I do this activity, I talk about it with other people”) and social expansion (“When I do this activity, I make new friends”). These drivers hold steady across age and gender for kids, young adults and parents. For its part, Twitter can be seen as a portal for inspiration by parents and young adults where they can learn more about others who can show them why being a member of Twitter is desirable. Finally, the likes of TV, social networks and virtual worlds are the escapist platforms of the 21st century. The top factors that drive usage of these media across all ages and genders include things like “After I do this activity, I always feel more relaxed” (for TV), and “When I do this activity, I forget about my problems and pressures for awhile” (for social networking and virtual worlds).

This concludes our two-part report on social media. In the next Kaleidoscope, we’ll explore the ever-evolving family dynamic – who families are, what they look like and how they live in today’s world.

*Article research designed and analyzed by Insight Research Group with Nickelodeon.

(Source: Insight Research Group, Nov 09; Touchstone Research, Sept 09. Quant Sample size: N = 1,574 young adults and parents with kids ages 9 to 17)


Nickelodeon has utilized our online panel/community management capabilities and technologies for numerous innovative and ground-breaking research projects including Nickelodeon’s acclaimed Kaleidoscope studies published in Kidscreen™ magazine spanning several years.


Nickeldeon Kaleidoscope. “Young Adults, Parents, and Social Media” Kidscreen Magazine  1 Jan. 2010.

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