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Teens Rule Social Media - NFP Report

16 April 2015 at 9:52 am
Xavier Smerdon
Almost a quarter of all American teenagers go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones, according to a new national Not for Profit survey.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 April 2015 at 9:52 am


Teens Rule Social Media - NFP Report
16 April 2015 at 9:52 am

Almost a quarter of all American teenagers go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones, according to a new national Not for Profit survey.

Aided by the convenience and constant access provided by mobile devices, especially smartphones, 92 per cent of US teens report going online daily — including 24 per cent who say they spend almost all their time online, according to a new study from Pew Research Center.

More than half (56 per cent) of teens — defined in this report as those ages 13 to 17 — go online several times a day, and 12 per cent report once-a-day use. Just six per cent of teens report going online weekly, and two per cent go online less often.

According to lead researcher Amanda Lenhart, much of this frenzy of access is facilitated by mobile devices.

“Nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30 per cent have a basic phone, while just 12 per cent of teens say they have no cell phone of any type,” Lenhart said.

“African-American teens are the most likely of any group of teens to have a smartphone, with 85 per cent having access to one, compared with 71 per cent of both white and Hispanic teens. These phones and other mobile devices have become a primary driver of teen internet use: Fully 91 per cent of teens go online from mobile devices at least occasionally.

“Among these “mobile teens,” 94 per cent go online daily or more often. By comparison, teens who don’t access the internet via mobile devices tend to go online less frequently. Some 68 per cent go online at least daily.”

The survey found that African-American and Hispanic youth report more frequent internet use than white teens. Among African-American teens, 34 per cent report going online “almost constantly” as do 32 per cent of Hispanic teens, while 19 per cent of white teens go online that often.

Facebook remains a dominant force in teens’ social media ecosystems, even as Instagram and Snapchat have risen into a prominent role in teens’ online lives.

Asked which platforms they used most often, the overall population of teens reported that Facebook was the site they used most frequently (41 per cent said that), followed by Instagram (20 per cent) and Snapchat (11 per cent).

Boys are more likely than girls to report that they visit Facebook most often (45 per cent of boys vs. 36 per cent of girls). Girls are more likely than boys to say they use Instagram (23 per cent of girls vs. 17 per cent of boys) and Tumblr (6 per cent of girls compared with less than 1 per cent of boys).

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Top Social Media Platforms for Teens

The survey data reveals a distinct pattern in social media use by socio-economic status with middle and upper income teens leaning toward Instagram and Snapchat.

Teens from less well-off households (those earning less than $50,000) are more likely than others to say they use Facebook the most: 49 per cent of these teens say they use it most often, compared with 37 per cent  of teens from somewhat wealthier families (those earning $50,000 or more).

Teens from more affluent households are somewhat more likely than those from the least affluent homes to say they visit Snapchat most often, with 14 per cent  of those from families earning more than $75,000 saying Snapchat is their top site, compared with 7 per cent  of those whose families earn less than $30,000 annually.

Twitter shows a similar pattern by income, with the wealthiest teens using Twitter more than their least well-to-do peers. It should be noted that some of these differences may be artifacts of differences in use of these sites by these different subgroups of teens.

“As American teens adopt smartphones, they have a variety of methods for communication and sharing at their disposal. Texting is an especially important mode of communication for many teens. Some 88 per cent  of teens have or have access to cell phones or smartphones and 90% of those teens with phones exchange texts. A typical teen sends and receives 30 texts per day,” Lenhart said.

“And teens are not simply sending messages through the texting system that telephone companies offer. Some 73 per cent of teens have access to smartphones and among them messaging apps like Kik or WhatsApp have caught on. Fully 33 per cent of teens with phones have such apps.

“And Hispanic and African-American youth with phones are substantially more likely to use messaging apps, with 46 per cent of Hispanic and 47 per cent of African-American teens using a messaging app compared with 24 per cent of white teens.

“Teenage girls use social media sites and platforms — particularly visually-oriented ones — for sharing more than their male counterparts do. For their part, boys are more likely than girls to own gaming consoles and play video games.”

Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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