The Newest on Teens, Social Media & Technology

Posted on: 07/24/18 3:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Pew Research just released their newest report on Teens, Social Media & Technology giving us the newest numbers confirming what we already knew: almost all teens have smartphones and use social media a lot!

But their numbers also revealed some interesting realities about where teens navigate and their perceptions about social media. Here are some random facts that stood out to me from their report:

  • 95% of teens have access to a smartphone. That’s huge! They don’t even talk about phone ownership, but access. Last time Pew released this report (in 2015) 73% owned a phone and 85% had access.
  • Only 3% didn’t use social media, meaning 97% were on social media in some form. Another likeminded recent report from Kidscreen found literally 100% of kids 5-12 they asked were on social media of some kind. (No wonder today’s kids wanna become an Instagam celebrity when they grow up!)
  • More experts are seeing YouTube as social media because it’s ability to join, comment, share, etc. And it’s by far the most popular of them all… even more than Insta and Snap.
  • Instagram is neck and neck with Snapchat, both with about 7 out of 10 kids saying they use them. Although Snap was the clear winner (above YouTube and Insta) as the social media they use “the most often.”

But the facet I found the most intriguing from this report was how young people perceived social media, which was largely effected by bullying (yeah… something I just did a bunch of research about). The report revealed…

  • Only 31% of young people said social media had “a mostly positive effect” on people their age. (Here’s where I quote Newt from the movie Aliens and repeat, “Mostly.”)
  • And among those who said social media had a “mostly negative effect” on people their age, the number one reason they gave was because of the “bullying/spreading rumors.” (revealing the importance of helping the bullied, bullies and bystanders)

Last week I spoke to young people at a conference in Indiana about rethinking four facets of their phones. Many of these kids haven’t had these discussions with anyone yet. Moms, dads, teachers and youth pastors seem to becoming increasingly aware of the need to talk to our kids about the pics they’re posting, the friends they’re friending, the screentime they’re absorbing, and the affirmation they’re seeking (which is why I’m now teaching a parent workshop on those “Four Conversations” where I engage parents and teens in the same room.)

In a world where smartphones and social media have become so ubiquitous… it’s probably time we start having conversations about wise posting in an insecure world, don’t you think?

You can view the entire Pew Research report HERE.

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