Study: Social Media Helps With Teenage Empathy, Awareness

World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine study has found that many teens say that social media has made them more aware of the needs of others, both at home and abroad.

Despite a recent study by Stanford University, which suggests that social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace are no replacement for real human interaction, a new World Vision 30 Hour Famine study has found that these sites aid teens with developing empathetic skills.

As part of the World Vision 30 Hour Famine study, in which 200,000 teens are set to give up food to fight against global hunger, young people across the country were polled online by Harris Interactive about their social media activity.

According to the study, conducted online in January, more than half of teens (55 percent) say social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made them more aware of the needs of others. This is a huge increase from 2011 when 4 in 10 (44 percent) said their use of social media made them more aware. The study also says 2 in 3 teens (68 percent) agree that the benefits of social media outweigh the risks.

More than nine out of ten (91 percent) agree that it’s important to volunteer locally.

At the end of this month, some 200,000 teens will go hungry as part of World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine to raise funds and hunger awareness. Since 1992, 30 Hour Famine has raised more than $150 million to fight world hunger. This is the fourth year World Vision has surveyed American youth to get a better idea of what they’re thinking.

Regina Corson, Senior Vice President, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research at Harris Interactive, said:

“The jump in the number of teens who say social media sites make them more socially aware is a sign of the times.”

Michele Tvedt, World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine Manager said:

“It’s exciting to see our youth using the tools at their fingertips like social media to have a direct impact on the world.”

As part of the 30 Hour Famine campaign, teens refrain from eating for 30 hours “to get a taste of what the world’s poorest children face.” Teens consume only water and juice as they participate in local community service projects. And while last year the initiative raised $9.5 million to fight hunger, this year’s goal is $10 million.

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