Today’s teens: Plugged in and pleased about it

Folks, I am on vacation starting today but will be posting a bit and monitoring. I found this study on teens and social media interesting:

Nine out of 10 teenagers in America have used social media, and the majority of them perceive it to be a more positive than negative influence in their lives. But in spite of their widespread use of today’s technology, teens prefer talking in person over texting, tweeting, or connecting on Facebook, and many describe themselves as “addicted” to their digital devices.

“Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives,” a new report from Common Sense Media’s Program for the Study of Children and Media, provides the latest insights on teens’ use of media and technology and how they think it affects their relationships and feelings about themselves. This large-scale, nationally representative quantitative survey of more than 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds reveals that most teens think that social media has had a more positive than negative effect on their social and emotional well-being. Key findings include:

•90% of teens have used some form of social media; 75% have a social networking site, and more than half (51%) of all teens check their social networking site at least once a day.

•52% of all teens who use social media say that it has mainly helped their friendships, while only 4% say it has mainly hurt their friendships.

•29% of social network users believe that social networking makes them feel more outgoing (compared to 5% who say less); 20% say it makes them feel more confident (4% say less); 15% say it makes them feel better about themselves (4% say worse); and 10% say it makes them feel less depressed (vs. 5% who say more).

•Despite all this, 43% of teens express a desire to disconnect sometimes, 41% say they are “addicted” to their mobile devices, and 36% say they sometimes wish they could go back to a time when there was no Facebook.

The urge to unplug is highest among teens who either don’t use social networking or have had bad experiences online. As many as a third of these teens talk about “often” encountering racist or sexist (32%) or homophobic (31%) content in the digital dialogue.

Somewhat surprisingly, teens’ favorite way to communicate with their friends is by talking in person (49%), with texting next (33%) and social media a distant third (7%). Teens who prefer talking face-to-face say it’s because it’s more fun (38%), and they can better understand what people mean (29%). The telephone, a mainstay of teenage life just a generation ago, is virtually dead: Only 4% of teens prefer to talk on the phone.

“Today’s 13- to 17-year-olds are the first generation to go through their entire teen years with such an array of digital devices and platforms,” says James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “This report reads as a primer for parents to teens and tweens — to help them understand how their kids are engaging with technology and to highlight any impact it might be having on their social and emotional well-being.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

15 comments Add your comment

HoneyFern School

June 26th, 2012
9:34 am

Clearly why we need more acceptance of personal technology in schools, more teacher training, and classes on how to conduct oneself in social situations. Kids are becoming more savvy online and less so in person, but tech isn’t going away.

William Casey

June 26th, 2012
9:36 am

Two Observations:

1. I’m sure that the introduction of the telephone raised concerns 100+ years ago.

2. All this applies to today’s adults as well.


June 26th, 2012
9:50 am

Have a great break, Maureen. And don’t worry about monitoring the blog; we can take care of things while you recharge your batteries during a well-deserved vacation.

I think she bought it; release Nyancat and Philosoraptor!


June 26th, 2012
10:02 am

I believe social media has the potential to be a great teaching tool for social skills, if monitored properly. Certainly kids can be rude via technology but they can be rude in person as well and all kids need to learn how to deal with this. Interesting that my two oldest with different personalities are different in their use of social media as well. The more introverted one uses texting and facebook to connect with fewer friends and really could take it or leave it (except for words with friends). The more outgoing one is more involved and probably couldn’t survive without it! She is very adept at using apps that reallly relate to what she is doing (using apps to track her grades, exercise and h2o consumption).

I think it is amazing that I found a childhood friend I had lost touch with in just a few clicks of the mouse!

Road Scholar

June 26th, 2012
10:25 am

Kids need to work on their social skills and manners, esp to prepare them for the job market in the future. This includes their handwriting, grammar and punctuation, ethics, and manners. What ever happened to thank you notes? Not everything is electronic, nor can they hide behind a keyboard. They need to work on their verbalization skills…like…like…ya’ know,…like..ya ‘know……

Realistic Educator

June 26th, 2012
11:49 am

Interesting…not surprising though.

living in an outdated ed system

June 26th, 2012
11:59 am

I have many questions about the research methodology; however, the results are abundantly clear. If our schools do not deliver content using technology that students use in their daily lives, then the achievement gap will continue to widen.

Like any media, consumers must use it in moderation. If you remember, the same concerns were made around excessive television usage and the fact that parents abuse the medium by using it as a “babysitter.”

However, if children are provided with educational content using these digital platforms, then time on task is solved and we will start to see real results. That is, if our public schools embrace, rather than fear the open architecture nature of digital learning. Therein lies the problem. I am very skeptical that the “walled garden” nature of public education can co-exist with digital learning unless the system is fundamentally redesigned. And regrettably, because of the pain that our local school districts have inflicted on our communities due to the inability to change, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

June 26th, 2012
12:57 pm


Have restful, well-deserved vacation.

William Casey

June 26th, 2012
1:05 pm

Vacation! Enjoy!


June 26th, 2012
3:03 pm

I agree, there are times when we have to work at social conversations in our house because of all the tech toys we have.


June 26th, 2012
6:28 pm

I just talked about how to integrate mobile tech in the classroom at the Model Schools Conference. Here’s a link to my presentation!

living in an outdated ed system

June 26th, 2012
7:59 pm

@Maureen, there’s no point in having readers comment to this blog if you’re going to wait hours before releasing them. It means that the discussion thread is out of sync and no one is going to read that person’s comments! At least give us the respect we deserve!


June 27th, 2012
9:17 am

Sadly, we won’t know how social skills have been impacted for another 20-30 years. My kids grew up with most of this, but each can still send a beautiful, hand-written thank you note.


June 28th, 2012
9:18 am

@living I don’t know about you, but I’ve never given Maureen or the AJC one nickle out of my pocket, so I think she’s giving us the respect we deserve. ;-)

no to the cell

June 30th, 2012
8:56 am

As a teacher, I can not stand seeing students use their phones. They are disruptive. I look over their backs and find they are always on facebook.