Smartphones boost US teens' connections: survey

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2015 14:32 IST

It's not just your imagination: most American teenagers are online or on their smartphones every day, and many are almost continually connected.

A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday found that 92% of US teens go online daily.

That includes 56% who are online several times a day and 24% who say they are connected to the Internet and social networks "almost constantly."
A key factor is the growing prevalence of smartphones.

The survey of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 found that 73% had a smartphone and 30% had at least a basic cellphone.

Even though 87% of teens have access to a computer, 91% went online daily using a mobile device at least occasionally, Pew found.

The survey found that African-American and Hispanic youth are among the most active Internet users.

Among African-American teens, 34% reported going online "almost constantly" as did 32% of Hispanic youth and 19% of white teens.

"American teens, especially African-American youth, have embraced smartphones and the 24/7 access to people and information that they offer," said Amanda Lenhart, a Pew researcher and the lead author of the report.

Some 90% of teens with phones exchange text messages, with a typical teenager receiving 30 texts per day, Pew found. And one-third of those with smartphones use messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik.

Facebook still rules

The researchers found Facebook remains the dominant social media network for young Americans despite the rise of new platforms.

Among the teens surveyed, 71% said they used Facebook, with Instagram -- owned by Facebook -- the number two social media service used by 52%.

Asked about other social media, 41% of teens said they use Snapchat, 33% named Twitter and Google Plus, 24% were on Twitter-owned Vine and 14% used Yahoo-owned Tumblr.

The figures appear to allay concerns that Facebook is being abandoned by youth as more older Internet users join the world's biggest social network.

"Even as Facebook remains an important platform for a majority of teens, Instagram is commanding the attention of half of teens, and Snapchat nearly that number," said Lenhart.

"There are some interesting differentials in the most frequently used social platforms, with lower income teens using Facebook more often, while wealthier teens -- while still using Facebook -- are more likely than less wealthy teens to report that they use Snapchat or Twitter most often."

More than two-thirds of the teens surveyed said they use more than one social network. But of those who use only one, 66% said they opted for Facebook, with Google Plus and Instagram tied for second place with 13% each.

The report was based on an online survey of 1,060 teens from September 25 to October 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015. The margin of error was estimated at 3.7 percentage points.

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