New research highlights Aussie parents’ need for support when it comes to teens and social media

21 Jun 2021

  • 36% of parents feel unsure about the role they can play in keeping their teens safe on social media.
  • 32% of parents aren’t quite sure how to use the safety controls on social media.  
  • Almost 40% of parents aren’t quite sure what to do if their teen had a safety issue on social media. 
  • 40% of parents said they need more support to understand social media in order to talk to their teen about it.

Mental health service ReachOut Parents has released new research showing that approximately one third of Australian parents are concerned about their teens' use of social media and are unsure about the role they can play in helping to keep their teens safe on social media. Following this new research, ReachOut Parents is partnering with Instagram Australia to launch a new ‘Parents Guide to Instagram’. 

The nationally representative survey of over 500 parents and caregivers in Australia,* found that  parents' top five concerns about their teens' use of social media were: bullying, exposure to inappropriate content, unwanted contact or grooming, sexting or sharing nudes, and privacy concerns. 

The ‘Parents Guide to Instagram’ is a practical handbook which provides parents and carers with information about the platform’s safety features. Experts from ReachOut Parents have contributed tips for parents, such as how to start a conversation with teens about staying safe when using Instagram. 

Jackie Hallan, Head of Service Delivery at ReachOut Parents, said that the guide is a practical tool to help parents navigate safety on Instagram with their teens. 

“This new research shows that 32 percent of parents aren’t quite sure how to use the safety controls on social media and almost 40 percent of parents aren’t quite sure what they would do if their teen had a safety issue on social media. 

“Based on these findings, it was not surprising that 40 percent of parents told us that they want more support to help them understand social media so that they can feel confident to talk to their teens about it. 

“The new ‘Parents Guide to Instagram’ responds to these research findings by providing practical and useful information and tips. The guide explains the range of safety features and also helps parents bridge that potential gap between the information and talking to their teens about it.  

“ReachOut has partnered with Instagram again on this guide because we know that social media plays a huge part in the lives of so many teenagers across Australia. The more parents and teens that are aware of the safety features that are available on Instagram and actually use them, the better.”   

Josh Machin, Head of Policy for Facebook and Instagram Australia, said the Guide is a vital new resource for parents to understand the latest safety and privacy features on Instagram.

“Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of young people on our platforms. Parents play a key role in guiding teens’ online experiences, and today’s research shows they need more information to ensure those experiences are safe and positive.

“This new Guide will support parents, carers and teachers in understanding how our safety tools work—including a dozen new features—and shares helpful tips from ReachOut on talking to young people about social media.”

Download the Parent’s Guide to Instagram here and visit ReachOut.com/Parents

*Survey by ReachOut of over 500 parents and/or caregivers in Australia. Survey was nationally representative by gender, state, and remoteness status. Survey was conducted in May & June 2021. 

ENDS

Media contact 

Tessa Anderssen / tessa@reachout.com / 0411 708 587 

Note for editors 

Interviews are available with:

  • Jackie Hallan, Head of Service Delivery at ReachOut 
  • Parent case studies 

This is the second Parents Guide to Instagram that Instagram and ReachOut have launched. See first version here

Summary of statistics 

  • 36% of parents feel unsure about the role they can play in keeping their teens safe on social media.
  • 32% of parents aren’t quite sure how to use the safety controls on social media.  
  • Almost 40% of parents aren’t quite sure what to do if their teen had a safety issue on social media. 
  • 40% of parents said they need more support to understand social media in order to talk to their teen about it.  
  • 30% of parents feel moderately to extremely concerned about their teens' use of social media.
  • Parents' top 5 concerns about their teens' use of social media: bullying, exposure to inappropriate content, unwanted contact or grooming, sexting or sharing nudes, and privacy concerns. 

About ReachOut 

ReachOut is the most accessed online mental health service for young people and their parents in Australia. Their trusted self-help information, peer-support program and referral tools save lives by helping young people be well and stay well. The information they offer parents makes it easier for them to help their teenagers, too.

ReachOut has been championing wider access to mental health support since they launched their online service more than 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and is designed with experts, and young people or their parents. That’s why ReachOut is a trusted, relevant service that’s so easy to use.

Accessed by more than 2 million people in Australia each year, ReachOut is a free service that’s available anytime and pretty much anywhere.

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