Half of adults believe social media sites hurt young people?

That's the conclusion of a recent survey by Poll Position

Poll Position

If the results of a recent telephone survey are to be taken at face value - a reasonably big if, in my opinion - roughly half of American adults believe Facebook and its ilk are harmful to the social development of today's young people.

The survey of 1,200 registered voters by Poll Position, conducted Nov. 13 via telephone using Interactive Voice Response technology, asked the loaded question: "Do you think that social media are helpful or harmful to the social development of today's youth?"

The results: Fifty-three percent answered "harmful," 20 percent said "helpful," 17 percent said it is "not making a difference," and 11 percent offered no opinion.

Facebook logos

You say you've never heard of Poll Position? Neither had I, so I'm inclined to be wary here, but the results are eye-catching if for no other reason but they remain remarkably consistent across age groups - even 46.5 percent of those 18 to 29 said they consider social media harmful. In fact, the general consensus only diverges significantly when accounted for by the respondent's political party affiliation, as does everything these days; more Republicans (65%) see harm than do Democrats (40%). This Politico story gets into the backgrounds of the Poll Position principals (TV news, CNN) and discusses criticisms of the robo-call polling technology (I mean besides being annoying).

Of course, the question itself strikes me as questionable. You might as well ask: "Have you heard and read more scary stories or more positive stories about social media?"

Poll Position makes no bones about the fact that it is in the business of asking provocative questions. Relaunched recently by former CNN news executive Eason Jordan, the site takes what it contends are scientifically valid polls and offers registered users an opportunity to answer the same questions in non-scientific online surveys. The side-by-side presentation offers at least the potential of interest.

So just out of curiosity, I registered at Poll Position in order to vote in and see the results of the online survey asking about social media. The results were even more stark, as fully 60 percent (of an unspecified number of respondents) indicated they believe social media is a detriment to childhood social development.

For the record, I don't believe social media is harming the youth of America, in general, which isn't to say that individuals do not suffer harm.

But that's easy for me to say, because my kids are still too young for Facebook.

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