It should come as no surprise to anybody who hasn't been living under a rock for the past decade that teenagers' lives now revolve around social media and texting. Instead of interacting face-to-face, most teenagers now conduct most of their socializing using smartphone screens as their intermediaries.
And while studies have shown that the advent of social media has been, overall, detrimental to the mental health of young people, a study conducted by a nonprofit called Common Sense Media has revealed some interesting new details about the social lives of the modern-day American teenager. While their parents have probably long been aware of the myriad ills of their childrens' digital lives, teenagers are also beginning to realize that all of this time spent on Instagram simply isn't healthy. To wit, the study found that today's teens overwhelmingly believe that social media interferes with homework, personal relationships and sleep.
Here's Axios with more:
Today's teens prefer texting over in-person communication, use social media multiple times a day, and admit that digital distractions interfere with homework, personal relationships and sleep, according to a new survey of 13- to 17-year-olds.
Why it matters: Concerns over the negative impact of social media use have increased recently with reports of teen depression, suicide and cyberbullying on the rise. The study by Common Sense Media, a non-profit group focused on tech and media's impact on kids, shows teens have a complicated relationship with technology.
In what was perhaps the study's most surprising finding, roughly 40% of the teens surveyed said they wish they could go back in time to an era before social media.
The impact: Interestingly, despite the increased use of social media, teens are more likely to say that social media has a positive effect on them. For instance, 25% say using social media makes them feel less lonely, compared to 3% who say it makes them feel more lonely.
Yes, but: Still, more than two-thirds of teens agree with the statement, "social media has a negative impact on many people my age."
And 40% agree with the statement, "I sometimes wish I could go back to a time when there was no such thing as social media."
Here's a roundup of some of the study's other key findings, courtesy of Axios:
- 81% of teens use social media, with 70% saying they use it multiple times a day, up from 34% in 2012. And 89% have their own smartphone, more than doubling since 2012.
- 72% of teens believe that tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on devices.
- The proportion of teens who prefer in-person interaction has plummeted from 49% in 2012 to 32% in 2018. Texting is now the favorite mode of communication.
- 13% of teens say they've been cyber-bullied.
- 33% of teens say they wish their parents would spend less time on their devices, up from 21% in 2012.
- In 2012, 68% said their go-to social site was Facebook. That number fell to 15% in 2018, with Snapchat and Instagram the new favorites.
The study also revealed an interesting conundrum: 54% of teens say they agree that social media distracts them during social interactions, and 44% say they get frustrated when their friends whip out their phones while they're hanging out. However, 55% say they rarely put their phones away when hanging out.
The 1990s really were a kinder, simpler time.