Only Half of Teens Prefer Interacting With Friends In Person

commonsensemedia-teens-favorite-ways-communicate-friends-june2012.pngTeens are avid social media users, but when it comes to their preferred methods of communication with friends, social networks barely register, per findings [pdf] from a Common Sense Media report released in June 2012. And while the largest proportion say that their favorite way to communicate with friends is face-to-face, this only equates to 49% of the respondents. One-third say their favorite method is through texting. While only 7% prefer communicating through social networks, that still outpaces phone conversations (4%).

According to a March 2012 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, just 14% of all teens said they talk to friends on a landline phone on a daily basis, down from 30% in 2009. The drop is not limited to landlines, either: 26% of all teens reported talking daily with friends on their cell phone, a 31.6% drop from 38% in 2009.

Face-to-Face Communication Is More Fun

Research released in May 2012 from Badoo indicates that 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than face-to-face, and the Common Sense Media study results echo that shift to digital modes of communication, with only a slight minority of teens saying that their favorite way to socialize with friends is in person.

Among these respondents, the main reasons given for preferring talking to friends in person are because it is more fun (38%), they can understand what people mean better (29%), they’re more comfortable talking about personal things (9%), and they can talk more seriously (6%).

Texting is Quicker, Easier

For the 33% of teens whose preferred mode of communication is texting, the main reasons are that it’s the quickest (30%) and the easiest (23%) way to get in touch. These were just minor factors for those who cited face-to-face communication as their favorite.

Other reasons for preferring texting include the time it affords to think about a response (16%) and it being more private (11%).

Other Findings:

  • One-third of teens say that using social media takes away from time they could be spending with friends.
  • 44% agree that using social media often distracts them from the people they’re with when they hang out together.
  • 3 in 10 social media users say they’ve flirted with someone online that they would not have flirted with in person.
  • One-quarter of these teens report having said something bad about someone online that they wouldn’t have said in person. According to a McAfee report [pdf] also released in June, 5.1% of teens have been afraid to go to school on account of cyber bullying, and 4.5% have been in a physical fight as a result of it. 1 in 5 said they have ended a friendship because of something that happened on a social network.
  • Per the McAfee report, 7 in 10 teens have hidden their online behavior from their parents, using a variety of tactics such as clearing the browser history (53%), closing or minimizing a browser when a parent walked in (46%), and hiding or deleting instant messages or videos (34%).

About the Data: The Common Sense Media report is based on a survey of 1,030 13-17-year-olds conducted online by Knowledge Networks: A GfK Company, from February 22 through March 11, 2012. The McAfee report is based on a total of 2,017 online interviews in the US conducted by TRU among teens ages 13-17 and parents of teens ages 13-17. These interviews were split evenly among 1,004 teens and 1,013 parents of teens.