Common Sense, the nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, has published a new research report, “Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences.” This survey is the organization’s second report tracking social media use among American teenagers – the original report of the same name was published in 2012 – and offers a revealing look at teens’ social media use over the last six years and how much it has come to dominate their lives. Findings include:
– Teens are on social media for much of the day: 70% of teens use social media multiple times a day (up from 34% in 2012) with 16% saying they use it “almost constantly” and a total of 38% saying they use it multiple times an hour.
– Teens prefer texting over talking face-to-face: When teens are asked to choose their favorite way to communicate with their friends, texting is the top choice, at 35%, followed by in person at 32%. In 2012, in person (49%) topped texting (33%).
– Social media distracts them from some important stuff: 57% agree that social media often distracts them when they should be doing homework, and 54% of teens say that using social media “often distracts me when I should be paying attention to the people I’m with”; 44% of teens say they get frustrated with their friends for being on their phones so much when they’re hanging out together. And nearly one-third who own smartphones say they’ve been woken up by their phones during the night by a call, text, or notification.
– Teens think tech companies manipulate them: Most teens – 72% – think some tech companies manipulate them to spend more time on their devices.
– Exposure to hate speech is on the rise, while cyberbullying is less common: All told, nearly two-thirds (64%) of teen social media users in 2018 say they “often” or “sometimes” come across racist, sexist, homophobic, or religious-based hate content in social media; 13% of teens report “ever” being cyberbullied, and more than one in five teens (23%) has tried to help someone who has been cyberbullied.
– Facebook is for communicating “with my grandparents”: Snapchat and Instagram are the most popular social media sites among teens, with more than six in 10 teens using each site (63% for Snapchat and 61% for Instagram). In 2012, 68% of teens listed Facebook as their main social networking site, whereas today, only 15% do.
Teens use social media way more today than they did in 2012, but they’re more likely to say it has a positive rather than a negative effect on them: 25% say it makes them feel less lonely (compared to 3% who say more), and 16% say it makes them feel less depressed (3% say more).