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Social media helps relationships, according to study

Graeme Parton

Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah have found that social networking sites may be useful in strengthening the bonds between parents and their children.

Led by the School of Family Life’s Dr. Sarah Coyne, the team issued questionnaires to nearly 500 parents and children. Those taking part were queried on their social networking behaviour, how they thought it affected the connection they had with their family members, and whether it changed their behaviour at all.

The results showed that children who do have their parents as friends on Facebook and Twitter feel more of a connection to their family members and were less likely to be affected by depression or aggression issues.

Around 50% of the teenagers asked said they regularly engage with their parents on the sites, with 16% saying that interaction is a daily occurrence.

Speaking about the reasons behind the trend, Dr Coyne said:

“You can do a lot on social networking sites. Your kid might post a picture, and you might show support by liking it or making a nice comment, or a status update that does the same kind of thing. It gives more opportunities to give positive feedback or show affection.”

What will be interesting to marketers is the fact that more parents are regularly using social media sites. In the past, it has been assumed that sites like Facebook and Twitter are used predominantly by those under 40, but seeing as this is gradually changing, businesses with slightly older target audiences would do well to capitalise by exploring the platforms.

In order to build meaningful relationships with customers, however, businesses need to use engaging content. This can involve a mixture of relevant news stories, striking visuals and product updates – all of which should lend itself to sharing.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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