SALT LAKE CITY — In 2018, hanging out in real life is out. Texting, though, is in.
A new survey from Common Sense found that teens’ social media use is going up. So much so that they prefer texting as a way to talk to their friends rather than meet in person.
The report found that 32 percent of teens would rather communicate in person, which is a 32 percent drop since 2012 when 49 percent of teens said they’d rather meet in person.
Texting is now the top method for chatting with friends.
Ron Dahl, director of the Center on the Developing Adolescent at the University of California, Berkeley, told Quartz that this might be because there’s less pressure for teens when they’re talking through texts.
For example, texting offers teens more control over a conversation.
“Interacting in real time is riskier, and it’s even riskier when you are self-conscious,” he told Quartz. “Social media allows more editing.”
Common Sense polled more than 1,000 Americans teens about their feelings and use of social media apps, like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and others. The survey was self-reported, which offers limitations to the teens’ responses.
Common Sense previously surveyed a separate group of teens back in 2012. The media watchdog used both sets of data to compare teen changes in the last six years.
- The survey found that those who use social media multiple times per day rose from 34 percent in 2012 to 70 percent in 2018.
- Meanwhile, 16 percent said they use social media “almost constantly,” while 22 percent use multiple times every hour.
- In 2012, Facebook dominated all media with 68 percent of teens saying it was their main app. Now, Facebook is down to 15 percent.
But teens reported positive benefits from using social media. Again, the data is self-reported by teens, so it remains unclear if these benefits are real or not.
- The survey found 21 percent of teens said social media made them feel more popular.
- One-in-five teens said social media made them feel more confident.
- Another 18 percent said social media made them feel better about themselves.
- However, the survey found 12 percent of teens said social media made them feel more anxious and 16 percent said it made them feel less depressed. One-in-four teens said social media made them feel less lonely.
“Despite the increased use of social media that has occurred over the past six years, teens are no more likely to report having a negative reaction to social media on any of these measures today than they were in 2012,” according to the survey.
But Vicky Rideout, founder of VJR Consulting in San Francisco and the author of the Common Sense report, said it’s important to note how teens say they feel about social media, according to USA Today.
However, it shouldn’t be the only metric.
“I do not think for a minute that the only metric we should use to measure what type of impact social media is having on teens is what they say they think it is having,” Rideout said.