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Smartphone ownership has become ubiquitous among teenagers: 95 percent of teens now own a smartphone or have access to one, according to the latest study completed by the Pew Research Center.

This also means teens have access to a variety of social media platforms such as Snapchat, Youtube, and Instagram. Nearly half of the teens surveyed in the study report they are on some form of social media constantly.  Three years ago, Facebook lead the pack in social media platforms among teens. Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat have supplanted Facebook among teens between the ages of 13 to 17.

The following are the results of the survey on teens use of certain social media platforms:

  1. Youtube – 85 %
  2. Instagram – 72 %
  3. Snapchat – 69 %
  4. Facebook – 51 %
  5. Twitter – 32 %
  6. Tumblr – 9 %
  7. Reddit – 7 %
  8. None of the above – 3 %

The recent results show that the technological landscape among teenagers is changing rapidly. The flurry of social media activity has which has moved into the social aspect of schools from threats to inappropriate photos.

There are mixed views among teens if social media has any impact on their behavior. A plurality of teenagers (45 percent) thinks social media has neither positive or negative impacts on people their age. However, three-in-ten teens (31 percent) report social media has mostly a positive impact, while 24 percent describe its effect as mostly negative.

Teens also report that their internet use is nearly constant. Some teens (45 percent) say they us the internet “almost constantly”. This number has doubled to 24 percent from the 2014-2015 survey. Another 44 percent report they go online several times a day, which is roughly nine-in-teens go online multiple times a day.

The study also reports that teen girls are more likely to use visually-oriented social media like Snapchat and Instagram. Boys report they are likely to engage in social media platforms related to video gaming consoles. Overall, teens report they feel more connected to their friends and surroundings when they interact on social media.

What are the concerns?

A definitive study on whether social media are “good” or “bad” for teens’ mental health isn’t likely. Instead, we may learn more about the distinctions of relationships with technology that young people themselves report when they are asked.

There are some emerging studies that suggest a link between social media and depression for those teens that spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms show a significant (13 to 66 percent) higher rate of depression than those who spent less time.

Does this mean that social media is causing depression?

Emerging studies are showing a causation, but not a correlation. However, the evidence is mounting, and more research is being collected to learn more about the interactions technology plays in our lives.



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Jeremy Spencer
Jeremy Spencer grew up in rural South Georgia and has served as a healthcare provider, high school science teacher, school administrator, and state education official. Jeremy is currently the market and content manager for All on Georgia-Camden and Glynn Counties. Jeremy’s focus is local news, statewide education issues, and statewide political commentary for the All on Georgia News Network. Jeremy has served as an education policy analyst for local legislators and state education leaders as well as a campaign strategist for local and statewide political campaigns. Jeremy holds degrees in science and education from the University of Georgia, Piedmont College, and Valdosta State University. Jeremy has lived in Camden County for over 17 years.


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