According to a new survey from Pew Research, some 45 percent of American teens say they are online “almost constantly.” That number has nearly doubled from the 24 percent who said they were always online in Pew’s 2014-2015 study. Gender plays a role in that percentage; fifty percent of girls said they were always online compared with 39 percent of boys.
What could they possibly being doing during all that time they spend online? If you have a teen in your home, you could ask them, but they’ll most likely roll their eyes and say, “nothing.”
The data shows that they spend most of their time on social media. Thirty-five percent of teens said they use Snapchat most often out of any internet platform. At 15 percent, Instagram was the third-most popular online platform among teens. Snapchat has remained extremely popular with younger people, even as more users overall have joined Instagram.
32 percent of teens used YouTube most often, which takes the number two spot in the ranking. If you’ve ever fallen down your own YouTube rabbit hole, you can see how teens can lose hours of their day on the site.
Why is this data important? Well, for starters, here at Project B3, we find it…perplexing. Doctors, psychologists, even the creators of the very devices we use every day are all telling us to put our phones down. But, as a society, we aren’t listening. If anything, we are using them MORE.
Also, there are various ways to monitor our “screen time.” Whether we are monitoring our own screen time on our own devices, imposing limits on our children’s, or simply setting house rules for our families, we seem to be acutely aware that too much screen time is not good. Yet, the numbers, at least in these studies with American teens, are going up. Not just up, but almost doubling. If there are so many simple, effective ways to monitor our screen time, why aren’t we using them?
Project B3’s advice is to stay vigilant, caretakers. Set limits on what is an appropriate amount of time to spend online. Setting a good example is probably the most effective way to show our youth that there are far better ways to spend our time than by being online.