High School Athletes and Online Trash Talking – Who is the Referee?

A modest survey conducted this month by a small Midwest publication does a nice job illustrating some data about high school HS-FOOTBALLathletes and social media that could give pause to parents of kids who think their kid is on a scholarship track.

Ohio’s The Suburbabite is in the middle of a multi part series titled “Digital Impact: Social Media’s Effect on High School Sports”, and in Part II, the author looks at real data about how many high school athletes are using social media, and how they are using it. The numbers, from the survey of 110 athletes:

  • 100% of high school athletes use social media
  • 84% use social media to communicate about the sport they play
  • Of those, 99% use it to communicate with teammates
  • 24% use it to communicate with opposing players
  • 33% use it to interact with fans or others
  • Overall, 14% of respondents said they see “a lot” of negative conversation or trash talking on social media sites in regard to their sport
  • 80% said social media has an impact on games and rivalries
  • In football, 24% of respondents characterized social media as having a major impact on rivalries

According to the kids surveyed, 14% of respondents see a lot of trash talking. There’s no indication of how many see “some” the-suburbanitetrash talking, but we’ll bet that’s a much bigger number. Of the 24% of players who admit to reaching out to opposing players via social media, raise your hand if you think they’re checking in to see what time the game is scheduled for. They aren’t.

Most of this action is happening on Twitter, the most popular network for sports interactions at any age. Based on our observations, most athletes’ accounts are set to public. The stuff happening on there, positive and negative, is not only being seen by fans and players; college recruiters and coaches are seeing it too. What looks like friendly trash talking to your kid may look far different to a recruiter who doesn’t understand the rivalries and the history.

We know that spirits run high in high school sports, and heated exchanges are frequent on the field and off. There are referees present to police the on-field exchanges. As a parent, you need to get a handle on what your teen is up to online. There’s a permanent record, and coaches are looking too.


Parents of student athletes can contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.

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