Modern Technology and Social Media – Their Impact on Teenagers

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Social media and the prevalence of smartphones and other high-tech mobile devices and gadgets have all but taken over the lives of many teenagers. In a recently concluded research by the Pew Research Center among 1,060 teenagers aged 13 to 17 years of age, which was conducted during the periods September 20 to October 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015, it was found that approximately 24% of teenagers are able to constantly be online because smartphones are readily accessible to them. It was also found that 92% of the teenagers go online every day, including 24% who say that they are basically online all the time. About 56% of the teenagers report that they go online numerous times throughout the day while 12% say that they go online only one time each day. Another 6% claim that they go online once a week while 2% of the teenagers claim to go online less often than that.

The whole hype associated with having a mobile device has fueled this online madness. When the teenagers from that same survey were asked if they own or are able to access game consoles, smartphones, tablets, basic phones, and desktop or laptop computers, about 58% said that they have or have access to smartphones, 30% say that they have a basic phone, and 12% claim to have no cell phone at all. When African-American teenagers were compared to white and Hispanic teenagers, it was discovered that the African-American teenagers were more likely to have a smartphone and 85% had access to one, while only 71% of the white and Hispanic teenagers had one or had access to a smartphone. Smartphones and other mobile devices have become the main way in which teenagers access the Internet as the study showed that 91% of them do so. 94% of the teenagers report that they go online one or more times a day. Teenagers who do not use mobile devices to access the Internet have been found to go online a lot less while about 68% of them say that they go online at least once a day. About 19% of white teenagers are almost always online, while 34% of African-American teenagers and 32% of Hispanic teenagers are almost always online.

The Most Used Social Networks

When the teenagers go online, they access various social media platforms. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Tumblr, Vine, and other different types of social media sites. Based on the same Pew Research Center study among 1,060 teenagers, aged 13 to 17, it was found that Facebook was the most popular, accounting for 71%, followed by Instagram at 52%, then Snapchat at 41%, Twitter and Google at 33% each, Vine at 24%, Tumblr at 14%, and other social media sites at 11%.

Many Teenagers Use More Than One Social Network

Based on the results of another survey, it was found that many of the teenagers are using more than one social network. In fact, some 71% of those polled reported using more than one of the social platform options they were asked about. Of the 22% of the teenagers who only use one social network site, Facebook is used by 66%, Google+ is used by 13%, Instagram is used by 13%, and Snapchat is used by 3%.

It must be noted that the method used for this study was a bit different from the previous study. While the participants in the previous survey were interviewed by phone, this survey was administered online. This, of course, affected the results somewhat. Even though it is hard to really say how much of an effect on the results using the online method had, the results drawn from the data collected were similar. As a result, the specific percentages from these results will not be compared with those from the previous survey. However, the online results are in some ways still comparable to the results obtained from the phone survey.

Going back to the Pew Research Center survey, it shows that Facebook is the dominant player in the social network market, even though Snapchat and Instagram have made some gains over time. The top three social media platforms that the teenagers who were polled said they use are 41% for Facebook, 20% for Instagram, and 11% for Snapchat.

It was also found that boys visit Facebook more often than girls, i.e. 36% of girls against 45% of boys. As for Instagram, 23% of the girls say that they use it compared to 17% of the boys. 6% of girls as against less than 1% of boys use Tumblr. Teenagers in the 15 to 17 age group used Facebook more than their younger counterparts, 44% of older teenagers vs. 35% of younger teens to be exact. They also used Snapchat (13% of the older ones vs. 8% of the younger ones) and Twitter (8% of the older ones vs. 3% of the younger ones) more than the younger teenagers. It was also found that the younger teenagers preferred using Instagram more than the older teenagers, a ratio of 25% of the younger teenagers to 17% of the older teenagers.

Snapchat and Instagram Preferred by Teens in the Middle- and Upper-Income Brackets

Based on the Pew Research Center survey conducted on some 1,016 teenagers aged 13 to 17 for the same period as the previous surveys, a distinctive pattern was found as to how teenagers in the middle- and upper-income brackets use social media. 49% of the teenagers from the middle-income bracket, whose family earnings are less than $50,000 per annum, say that they use Facebook most of the time, while 37% of teenagers from the upper-income bracket, whose family earnings amount to $50,000 or more per annum, say that they use Facebook more than the other social network sites.

What we also see from the data is that teenagers who come from the upper-income bracket are more likely to say they paid a visit to Snapchat than those from the middle-income bracket, where some 14% of the families that earn more than $75,000 per annum saying that Snapchat is their preferred site, whereas only 7% of those earning less than $30,000 per annum prefer Snapchat. It was also noted that Twitter was preferred by the wealthiest teenagers, with their counterparts a little down the economic scale saying that they use it less.

Teenager’s Communications Patterns Highly Influenced by Smartphones

Smartphones have basically become a household item for many teenagers, many of them viewing those devices as an essential part of life. Many teenagers like to send text messages. On average, teenagers send and receive about 30 texts per day. This is coupled with the fact that approximately 88% of teenagers have or have access to smartphones or regular cellphones, with some 90% of those teenagers exchanging text messages each day.

The trend, based on the survey, shows that of the 74% of teenagers who are able to access smartphones, they have been using platforms like WhatsApp and Kik to send messages. In fact, 33% of the teenagers who have smartphones use those apps.Hispanics and African–American teenagers who have access to smartphones tend to use messaging apps more often than white teenagers. The figures show 47% of African-American teenagers and 46% of Hispanic teenagers use messaging apps compared to only 24% of white teenagers.

Boys Prefer Playing Video Games While Girls Control Social Media

Based on the initial Pew Research Center survey mentioned at the start of this article, the data revealed that 61% of girls compared to 44% of boys preferred to use Instagram, 51% of girls compared to 31% of boys preferred to use Snapchat, 33% of girls compared to 11% of boys preferred to use Pinterest, and 23% of girls compared to 5% of boys preferred to use Tumblr. So, teenage girls use social media and visually-oriented platforms for sharing a lot more than boys.

As for playing video games, the boys are more likely to own video games and gaming consoles than girls. The data revealed that 91% of boys have or have access to a game console compared to only 70% of girls, while 84% of the boys played video games online or on their phone compared to 59% of the girls.

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