Facts about today’s teens’ technology, social media use and sex

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Garry Knight / Flickr

“Social media is destroying our lives,” a girl from Los Angeles said.

“So why don’t you go off it?”

“Because then we would have no life.”

Journalist Nancy Jo Sales spent 30 months traveling around the United States interviewing teenager girls and boys to find out what it’s like to grow up as a teenager in a world saturated with social media.

In her book, American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, Sales highlights some interesting facts about today’s American teenager technology, social media and dating habits.

It’s a fascinating book that’s worth reading in full. Here are a few thought-provoking findings:


A 2010 study found that 92% of American children have an online presence before the age of two.

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Getty Images / John Moore

Teenagers spend up to eleven hours a day staring at one screen or another.

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Michael Dodge/Stringer/Getty Images

The Pew Research Center found that 73% of teenagers between the ages of thirteen and seventeen own smartphones.

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Shutterstock

Of them, 92% use a mobile device to go online daily, with 24% online “almost constantly.”

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REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Apple is the number one seller of smartphones to teenagers, with a stronger hold than Clearasil or even Nike ever enjoyed.

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Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Last fall, 67% of US teenagers owned iPhones and 74% said the next smartphone they purchased would be an iPhone, according to the investment banker Piper Jaffray’s biannual “Taking Stock with Teens” report.

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REUTERS/Mike Segar

Kids start seeing porn on the internet as young as 6-years-old, while the majority of US teenagers have watched it before their eighteenth birthday.

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Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Before Tinder’s recent policy change, 7% of the social dating app’s 50 million users were estimated to be between the ages of thirteen and seventeen.

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Tinder

In 2013, the CDC found that about 20 percent of high school girls binge drink.

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Reuters/Vasily Fedosenkoi

And women are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior after just 3 drinks.

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Kristoffer Trolle/flickr

Forty-one percent of teenagers who reported having had sex in the last three months surveyed by the CDC in 2015 reported not using a condom the last time they had sex.

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lookcatalog via Flickr

Instead, teenagers are increasingly turning to other forms of birth control. Use of the morning-after pill, or “plan b”, increased from just 8% in 2002 to 22% between 2011 and 2013.

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Wikimedia/Mettiche

While Facebook remains the most popular social media site overall, Snapchat is the most popular social network among teens.

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Thomson Reuters

Girls share more on social media, especially in visually-oriented spaces like Instagram and Snapchat, than their male counterparts.

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Greg Kahn/The Atlantic

Last year, a survey by the Girl Scouts revealed that nearly 74 percent of girls agreed that their female peers tried to make themselves look ‘cooler than they are’ on social media.

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phretys via flickrcommons

An APA report found that paying constant attention to physical appearance leaves individuals with fewer cognitive resources available for other mental and physical activities.

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Shutterstock