Results of student survey about social media usage 2018

In early 2018, Teckids e.V. carried out a survey on the use of social media among 574 students. The survey has been designed by Niels Hradek (13 years) and Philipp Stahl (14 years), conducted by many children and adolescents in their schools and classes and evaluated mainly by Tim Valentin (11 years).

Detailed evaluation

The following document contains the quantitative evaluation of the questionnaire survey and the questionnaire can be viewed here. Questions about the data or requests for the raw data for further evaluations are accepted via e-mail.

Icon Statistical evaluation of the student survey "Use of social media" 2018 (132.2 KB) Icon Questionnaire student survey "Use of social media" 2018 (106.7 KB)

Abstract of the results

Editor's note: The report written by Tim Valentin was verified to be contentually correct, but kept linguistically intact to honour the young scientific work.

The objectives of this survey were to know what services are being used, how to use instant messaging and social networking, whether the terms of service are known, whether participants are interested in what happens to their data, who or what brought them to use those services and whether they are interested in contributing to the services they use.

The survey was mostly conducted in grammar schools, but also in other secondary schools of the German school system.

574 students took part in the survey. Learners from the 7th or 8th grade (54%) represent the majority in the survey. Few of the participants were in the 4th to 6th grade (24%) and a few were in the 9th or 10th grade or in the 2nd grade (10%).

Unfortunately, the survey is not scientifically representative, as 86% of the participants attend a grammar school and therefore the other  school types in the German system are not equally represented. However, as the results of individual subgroups are very similar, a representativeness of the results can be assumed.

According to our evaluation, almost all the students use WhatsApp (94%) and YouTube (91%). But Instagram (57%), (25%) and Snapchat (56%) are also frequently used. This result is similar to other surveys we looked at before: Despite poor data protection, WhatsApp is still the most widely used messenger service.

Many participants say that they use instant messaging and social networking to stay in touch and get information for school. Most of them only skimmed the terms of use and one third of the respondents did not care to read them carefully. That is not so good, because you should know exactly what personal information is being used by someone else. Nevertheless, the vast majority of respondents find it bad that their data is purposefully collected, then analyzed and later sold or otherwise reused.

Many children were brought in contact with these services by friends or classmates. Parents also have a big impact on the choice and use of social media, while schools seem more likely to promote the use of the most widely distributed messenger in the learning group.

It is important for them that they can chat quickly and easily with their friends. Private text messages, photo messages, voice messages, and occasionally voice and video calls are often used. On the other hand, public status posts and publicly posted photos are becoming increasingly rare.

Most young people first think about who should see the content and whether the content should be on the Internet. That is very good, because if you accidentally post something, the internet will never forget it. Almost all respondents knew exactly who they should ask before putting something on the net (for example, in photos of others). That is good as you can be held responsible if you put somebody else on the net without first asking him.

85% of the students voluntarily chose to take part in a special group chat of the class, which could be found at all of the participants' schools.

More than half of the respondents have heard of the term Free Software before. It is a pity that so far only 10% use this software, but two-thirds would like to be able to co-design social media.

We can conclude from this that many children and adolescents use the chosen, mostly proprietary and insecure, services only because they do not know or have an adequate free alternative. Data protection and their rights and participation are very important to them, but opportunities and alternatives need to be better designed and brought to schools and learners.

Further links to similar surveys (German)

SIN - Studie im Netz: Welche #Apps und #SocialMedia-Tools nutzen #Jugendliche regelmäßig?

Online-Befragung der Studierenden der HS Düsseldorf

Studie der DAK-Forschung an 12- bis 17-jährigen Schülerinnen und Schülern

Grunddaten Jugend und Medien 2018, Internationales Zentralinstitut für das Jugend- und Bildungsfernsehen