Digital Access and Habits of American Teens

How immersed are teens in the latest technology? According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center, about 88% of teens have or have access to cell phones or smartphones, and 90% of those teens with phones exchange texts. In fact, many teens receive and send up to 30 texts a day, and 24% say they go online constantly due to the prevalence of smartphone access.

Key Findings

  • 71% of teens use more than one social network site.
  • Facebook is the most popular and frequently used social media platform among teens; half of teens use Instagram, and nearly as many use Snapchat.
  • However, middle and upper income teens lean toward Instagram and Snapchat.
  • Girls dominate social media; boys are more likely to play video games.

In addition to gender and income, the report also breaks down digital access and use by race/ethnicity.

  • African-American teens are the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to have or have access to a smartphone; 85% of African-American teens report smartphone ownership, compared with 71% of white and 71% of Hispanic youth.
  • White teens are more likely to report having a desktop or laptop computer — with 91% of white teens owning a desktop or laptop compared with 82% of Hispanic youth and 79% of African-American youth.
  • African-American and Hispanic youth report going online with greater frequency than white teens. About a third (34%) of African-American teens and 32% of Hispanic teens report going online “almost constantly,” while 19% of white teens go online that often.
  • African-American teens are substantially more likely to report playing video games than their white or Hispanic counterparts; 83% of African-American teens play games compared with 71% of white and 69% of black teens.

Read Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 from the Pew Research Center.

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Digital Issues