Study: Teens say peers mostly kind on social-media sites


But 65 percent of teens said they have had an experience on a social networking site that has made them feel good about themselves. 

Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, which partnered with Pew to conduct the study, said the results contradict fears that cyber bullying is becoming an epidemic among teens.

"By far, the majority of reports I read about [teens using social media] in the press come at it from a negative perspective," Balkam said. "The picture is actually a little different."

The report also found that "sexting," where one person sends a nude or suggestive image of themselves to someone, is less widespread than many adults fear.

Only 2 percent of teens said they have sent a "sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photo or video” to someone, but 16 percent said they have received such an image. 

The study found that 44 percent of teens have lied about their age to get onto websites. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires that websites that collect information from their users be restricted to people at least 13 years of age.

Balkam said the high number of children who lie about their age is "rather disturbing" and that young people are learning bad lessons about using the Internet. 

"We are either turning a blind eye or in some cases lying as parents" to help children access websites, Balkam said. He argued that raising the age-limit of COPPA would be ill-advised because it would only encourage more children to lie about their age.