Social Media = Social Life?

A new report, titled “Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences,” was recently released in September by the nonprofit Common Sense Media. The findings may surprise some, but are not sounding off any alarm bells to the experts in the field.

“It’s not all bad news,” said Common Sense senior research director Michael Robb. “Teens’ social media lives defy any simplistic judgments.”

Here are some of the results from that report:

  • 70 percent of teens now say they use social media more than once a day, compared to 34 percent of teens in 2012.
  • Snapchat is now the most popular social media platform among teens, with 41 percent saying it’s the one use most frequently.
  • One-fourth of teens say using social media makes them feel less lonely, compared to 3 percent who say it makes them feel more lonely.
  • Nearly three-fourths of teens believe tech companies manipulate them to get them to spend more time on their devices and platforms.

The Biggest Take-Aways:Common Sense Media found that teens, on the whole, say using social media makes them feel less lonely, less depressed, and more confident. It is their main form of communication. It is how they make plans, flirt, stay in touch with friends, make new friends, vent, everything. They would much rather Snapchat on their phones than hang out at each other’s houses.

However, one question to consider, Robb said, “Is if that trend reflects a vicious cycle in which the quality of the face-to-face time teens do have is diminished because their friends are more interested in their phones than in each other. The survey data suggest that could be the case: The proportion of teens who say social media “often distracts me when I should be paying attention to the people I’m with” has grown from 44 percent in 2012 to 54 percent in 2018.”Which makes sense; why would you want to sit in a house with a bunch of people who are staring at their phones?

The survey also revealed how distracting social media is for teens. The results also showed how many teens are using Snapchat. “Nearly two-thirds of teen Snapchat users, for example, say they’ve participated in a feature called Snapstreaks, which rewards friends who communicate with each other over the platform every day. More than a third of teens who’ve tried the feature find it stressful,” Common Sense found.“It’s a great example of why so many teens believe they are being manipulated by tech companies,” Robb said.

Statistics also found in the study, were less surprising: Fifty-seven percent of teens agreed that social media distracts them from homework, for example, but fewer than one-third usually turn off or silence their phones during homework time. Similarly, 44 percent of cellphone-owning teens said they regularly keep their phones on and active at night, leading to sleep that is sometimes interrupted by calls, texts, and notifications.

Teens are not known for their self-regulation. They are still developing these skills and as adults we need to teach them how to prioritize and learn time-management. Having an iPhone ping and notifications pop up every 2 minutes must be near impossible for these young minds to focus on anything else.

Project B3 knows that social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Many teens are spending hours of their days on social media and it is our job, as adults, to help them figure out how much time and energy they really want to give to social media.