Teens embrace social media but Facebook is for communicating “with my grandparents” 

Common Sense, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology, has published a new research report, that indexes the use of smartphones and social media amongst teenagers in the US – Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences.  It found that whilst social media has become a near-pervasive past time, the effects range from positive to negative.

How much use?

  • 70% of teens use social media multiple times a day (up from 34% in 2012) with 16% saying they use it “almost constantly” and 38% saying they use it multiple times an hour.
  • Teens prefer texting over talking face-to-face – 35% versus 32% for face-to-face.
  • 50% say that social media often distracts them when they should be doing homework, 54% say that using social media “often distracts me when I should be paying attention to the people I’m with.” 40% say they get frustrated with their friends for being on their phones so much when they’re hanging out together.

Exposure to hate speech is on the rise, while cyberbullying is less common.

  • Alarmingly, nearly two-thirds (64%) of teen social media users 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.

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% t say it makes them feel less lonely (compared to 3% who say more)
  • 16% say it makes them feel less depressed (3% say more).

We thought at the time of our first survey in 2012 that social media had pervaded teenagers’ lives. But, as many of us suspected and this study confirms, what we saw then was just the tip of the iceberg. And, in another six years from now, these statistics may seem quaint.

Vicky Rideout, report author, Common Sense