Teens are getting sick of face time.
The number of teens who prefer to communicate with their friends in person has dropped from nearly half (49%) in 2012 when it was once their top choice, to less than one third (32%) today who prefer texting, according to new findings from Common Sense Media’s 2018 Social Media survey.
This coincides with teens spending way more time on social media: The survey of more than 1,000 teens aged 13 to 17 found that time spent on social media has doubled in the past six years. And it’s greatly contributing to the change in the way Gen Z interacts with peers. Snapchat is the main social media app preferred by 41% of teenagers followed by Instagram with 22% and Facebook with 15%, the survey found.
But while teens are more socially active on text on social media, their social lives and mental health are at a greater risk. Teens reported greater levels of loneliness, depression and anxiety. And of those on apps like Snapchat and Instagram, 70% said they sometimes feel left out when using the platforms; 43% feel negative if they don’t get likes or comments on their posts; and 35% said they have been cyberbullied online. Meanwhile, 25% of participants said they felt more connected to friends.
Other studies have shown that there’s been a major increase in depression from 8.7% of young adults in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014. One factor may be social media, as research suggests that it puts pressure on teens to fit in with their peer groups because the platforms magnify the significance of life and social events and even body image. Users subconsciously compare themselves to what others post, aspiring to be like what they see online from other people’s accounts. And for those who spend multiple hours a day using screens, social media can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, increasing the risk of loneliness, sleeplessness, worry and dependence. Another study from 2017 found that 33% of teens who spend five hours per day on an electronic device have at least one suicide risk factor compared to 29% of those using electronic devices 1 hour a day.
Teens are also more likely to feel distracted from personal relationships as they consume apps like Instagram more frequently, with 44% admitting they felt less focused, up from 34% in 2012, the Common Sense Media survey revealed. And while parents may be berating their kids for being constantly on the phone, 33% of teens said they wished their parents would spend less time on their devices.
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