THE BLOG
01/21/2015 04:43 pm ET | Updated Mar 23, 2015

New Surveys: Grown-Ups Love Social Media and Cyberbullying Top Concern for Parents

Oliver Rossi via Getty Images

We often read about how the youth are spending their days attached to their digital devices, checking into their social networking sites, answering their text messages, taking selfies at a snap-a-second, or simply listening to their music through their earbuds -- but according to the recent Pew Research Study, adults are catching up.

In this recent study, 52 percent of adults are actually using at least two social media networking sites, which is a significant increase from 2013 at 42 percent.

Facebook still leads for the grown-up user, however adults are expanding their digital skills into other cyber-arenas such as Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

% of online adults who use the following social media websites, by year

In reality, outside of their cyber-life, this is all great news since we need adults to fully understand the digital world in order to keep up with today's technology, especially if they are a parent.

Along with the rising numbers of adults using social media has come increased concern about online bullies. Cyberbullying now comes in as a primary concern for parents, topping both teen pregnancy and substance abuse, according to another recent survey.

Primus partnered with PREVnet that conducted a survey that revealed 48 percent of parents are worried about cyberbullying; this leads the list of concerns that also includes teen pregnancy (44 percent), drug use (40 percent), and alcohol use (38 percent).

In reviewing both of these studies, I found it interesting that more grown-ups (parents) are now using social media and yet some are not heeding the advice about online safety that they should be teaching their children, such as oversharing information online.

In the Primus/PREVnet survey, one in five parents admitted to sharing intimate photos and/or messages online or via text, yet 36 percent claim to be worried about their child's online image and what their children are posting without their consent.

If parents are oversharing or posting inappropriate content or photos, we have to take into consideration that this is not only about their children seeing them -- it is about others, both youth and adults, all over the Internet viewing them.

The Primus/PREVnet survey also stated that nearly one in five parents know their underage children have Facebook accounts, despite knowing the age requirement is 13 years old. Parents having concerns about online bullying is legitimate, but it can be reduced by heeding the age requirements and following some basic digital guidelines that are laid out by social networks in their privacy policies.

These surveys are telling us that social media use is growing for all ages, harassment is booming right along with it, and parents are concerned.

When people we should respect -- parents, grown-ups, celebrities, sports figures, politicians -- start ranting online with cruel comments, cartoon figures of spiteful thoughts, photos cropped to be hurtful; what does this say about our culture? What does this say about adults?

Everyone needs to stop and think about their keystrokes, their uploads and downloads, and how it will affect the next person. We are literally at a point in our society where people can be fired for a Tweet or lose their college scholarships due to inappropriate comments or pictures, and most people know that if you are looking for a job or applying to colleges, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

In today's digital-world, your cyber-persona is usually what makes that first impression. What will it be? Will you get called in for an interview -- or accepted to your first choice college? Literally, your keypad could lead the way.

We all have an opportunity to be a cyber-role-model for someone. Keep in mind, no matter what your age, on all social media networks -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. -- learn to define yourself and aspire to be that someone that others admire online -- and off.

Takeaway tips:

• Offline parenting continues to help online safety.

• Grown-ups have the same risks as youth, practice what you preach. Share with care.

• It takes one-second to post and one-minute to pause. Pause before you post, it's worth sixty-seconds.

• Social media use continues to grow across all ages.

• It's important for everyone at every age to learn to use privacy settings.

• Online cruelty has no age barriers. Use your keystrokes for kindness.