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Edelman Trust Barometer Reveals Teens Set To Become The First Victims Of The 'Social Media Explosion'

'Because they are digital natives, we think it's easy for them.'

27/02/2017 16:00 | Updated 27 February 2017

Teenagers are set to become the first victims of the “social media explosion” as the world moves too quickly for them to keep up with, a new study has claimed. 

The Edelman Trust Barometer, a long-running survey into social attitudes toward trust and credibility, revealed that teens worry much more than their parents and grandparents that technology is developing too fast. 

Despite three-quarters of young people using social media every single day, ranking YouTube, Facebook and SnapChat among their favourites, 59% are worried about the pace of change of these sites and apps, the study of 1,000 16 to 18-year-olds revealed. 

In a survey of the general population, only 44% listed this as a cause for concern. 

“They are a generation who feel the world is turning too fast,” Edelman UK chief executive Ed Williams said about the figures. 

“Social media, technology, the whirl of fashion and entertainment, are all changing more rapidly than they feel comfortable with.”

Edelman Trust Barometer 2017
Moving too fast: 59% of teens are worried social media is changing too rapidly 

Cecile Nathan-Tilloy, managing director of Edelman Intelligence told The Huffington Post UK: “We think this reflects a general level of discomfort about the pace of change in technology for a group that is at the forefront of that change.

“They are often the first to be hit by innovation. Because they are digital natives, born to this world of technology, we think it’s easy and instinctive for them, but really it isn’t,” she continued. 

“It still requires effort and understanding to cope with constant change and it isn’t often that young people have a chance to express that point of view.” 

“They also don’t trust social media as opposed to traditional media,” Nathan-Tilloy added. 

“If you put those two elements together, they are more victims of the phenomenon than beneficiaries.” 

Edelman Trust Barometer 2017
Artificial intelligence, robotics and the mobile industry are other big causes of concern for young people 

The study found that teens are also seriously anxious about how rapidly the mobile industry is changing, with 45% listing this as a cause for concern, compared to just 34% of the British public. 

The pace of change in artificial intelligence and robotics, the media industry and the technology sector in general also emerged as particular concerns for 16 to 18-year-olds. 

The results come as part of a wider survey that has led teens to be labelled “Generation Angst” for their concerns over Brexit, the economy and society.

The main findings of the survey show:

  • Only 14% now feel confident about their future post-Brexit
  • ‘None of the above’ ranked higher than all UK political leaders
  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan most trusted to ‘do what is right’
  • 6 in 10 are worried about the pace of change of social media
  • Young people are more likely to consider experts believable

Edelman UK chief executive Ed Williams said the results paint a “troubling picture” of today’s youth. “There is a swathe of anxious young people who are looking for reassurance about the future,” he said. 

“They have left childhood behind, but don’t like that they see up ahead of them. Rather than the optimism of youth, they show a greater angst about the future than their parents do.”

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