A new study has shed some light on the ways that teenagers are using social media, which has quickly established itself an important – and influential – part of their everyday lives.
Some 90 percent of 13-17 year olds have used social media, placing it ahead of texting (87 percent), email (77 percent) and instant messaging (63 percent), with one in five saying that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter make them feel more confident.
The survey was undertaken by Common Sense Media, who polled more than 1,000 13-17 year-olds around the USA – essentially the first generation to have “grown up” on Facebook. The survey showed that nine in ten teens had used social media overall, with 27 percent having used Twitter.
51 percent of teenagers visit a social networking site daily (second in usage only to texting).
Facebook was the social network of choice amongst teens, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) using this channel. Twitter captured second place (6 percent) and Google+ finished third alongside MySpace, with just 1 percent of the vote.
The study also revealed that meeting in person was still a teenager’s favourite way to communicate with friends, with almost half (49 percent) preferring this method. Texting finished in second place (33 percent), with less than one in ten favouring social media for friend engagement (7 percent). Twitter alone captured just 1 percent of this vote.
Face-to-face communication was generally preferred because it is “more fun”.
It’s not all roses, though – one in three teens (36 percent) said that they sometimes wished they could go back to a time before Facebook. The report concludes, however, that while we should proceed with caution, teenagers and social media are, overall, a pretty good mix.
“None of this means that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to teens and social media,” write Common Sense Media. “The concerns are real: about privacy, bullying, hate speech, body image, and oversharing, to name a few. And we won’t know for a long time how the immediacy of digital communication may be shaping interpersonal relationships and social skills. But the results of this survey do help put the challenges and pitfalls of social media into a broader perspective and offer reassurance that, for the most part, the kids are all right.”