9 in 10 teens have used a form of social media at some point, and half visit a social networking site at least daily, finds Common Sense Media [pdf] in June 2012 survey results. And while most report positive emotional impacts from their online social lives, a significant proportion show a desire to unplug. In terms of teens’ daily use of social and digital communications, texting is their most popular regular activity, performed by 68% of teens, with social networks (51%) next. Just 3 in 10 email on a daily basis, and only 19% say they IM with this frequency.
Among the overall sample, roughly two-thirds say their main social networking site is Facebook.
Social Networking Bolsters Confidence, Outgoing Spirit
Data from “Social Media, Social Life” indicates that teens are far more likely to feel that their social network activity has a positive rather than negative effect on their lives. For example, among the three-quarters who maintain a social networking profile, 20% say that it has made them more confident, as opposed to just 4% who say it has made them less confident. Similarly, 28% report being more outgoing as a result, compared to just 5% who report the opposite effect. Social networks have also made a larger proportion of teens more popular, sympathetic to others, and apt to feel better about themselves.
Interestingly, April 2012 survey results from Euro RSCG Worldwide found that while a majority of 18-34-year-olds say that being on social media sites makes them better informed and is one of the main ways they stay connected with their friends, a significant 33% say that social networking makes them less satisfied with their own life, and that they are envious of the lives they see others leading.
Despite Positive Impact, Many Show Signs of Fatigue
Although many teens responding to the Common Sense Media survey believe that social networks help them keep in touch with friends and connect with people who share a common interest, many wish to sometimes disconnect. Among the overall sample, 36% strongly (12%) or somewhat (24%) agree that they sometimes wish they could go back to a time when there was no Facebook. Additionally, 45% say they get frustrated with friends for texting or social networking while they’re hanging out together, and 43% wish they could unplug sometimes.
This desire to unplug is higher – fairly predictably – among teens who aren’t currently using a social networking site, but is also related to unpleasant experiences encountered on a site. According to the report, one-third of teens who most want to unplug or go back to a time when there was no Facebook report often encountering racist (32%), sexist (32%), or homophobic (31%) content in social media. According to McAfee survey results [pdf] also released in June, 62.1% of all teens have witnessed cruel behavior online, with most of them seeing this behavior on Facebook.
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.