Social media plays a big role, online networks are crucial to how the next generation interacts. But when it comes to connecting, text messaging is their preferred method, with 55% of teens saying they communicate via text message daily. This is one of the findings of a new Pew Research report into how teenagers are using technology, providing insight into how the younger generation interacts. The study - the result of a U.S.-wide survey of teens aged 13 to 17 - shows that, among daily interactions, texting is the dominant option, with nothing else even coming close.
While the rising popularity of messaging is widely known - Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, in particular, are always among the lists of most downloaded apps - the margin of popularity, in regards to daily use, is somewhat eye-opening. At 55%, text messaging leads the next closest daily connection type by a margin of 28% - and that next option is Instant Messaging (meeting friends in person is the next closest, coming in at 25%). That's a strong trend to take note of, particularly for those looking to communicate with younger generations.
In addition, the study also found that teen girls are more likely to connect with friends via text than boys, while boys dominate video games.
No real surprises there, but again, it's the margins of variance that are worth noting - text messaging comes out well ahead of talking on the phone and social media amongst this user group.
The data is pretty clear - if you're not utilizing messaging when marketing to younger consumers, you're likely missing out. And if you're not considering how that trend relates to the next generation of consumers, how those habits might translate as they move into the next stage of their lives, it might be a good time to start doing so.
Interestingly, the study also shows that 57% of US teens have met new friends online.
The most common platforms where teens meet new friends online are social networks - 64% of respondents indicated they'd made new friends via social, with Facebook and Instagram the most popular. Even more interesting, 80% of these online relationships remain exactly that, with only 20% of teens actually ever meeting these connections in real life.
This is a fascinating insight, and one which may shine a light on the future of connectivity and how we meet and make friends. According to this data, 29% of teens have established relationships with five or more people online, the vast majority of whom they'll never meet. On one hand, this likely reflects more hesitation amongst teens to meet strangers in real life - which might be a good thing considering the amount of horror stories we hear about predators on the web. But it also highlights just how important internet connectivity and online relationships have become.
These connections would play a significant part in the social lives of these teens, as well as their social development and interactive DNA, yet they don't need to meet to do this. While in-person communications used to be a crucial part of the connective process, these figures suggest that maybe this isn't so important to the next generation. In terms of habitual evolution, this likely points to more work being conducted remotely in future and more business relationships being formed online. While face-to-face meetings will always be valuable, it's interesting to see how teens are approaching connectivity, and how online relationships which never cross into the 'real world' are playing a significant part.
Too Much Information
The report looks at social media habits among teens, finding that 76% use social media. Interestingly, the most commonly experienced use of social media among teens was 'people stirring up drama'.
Among other notes:
- 83% of teen social media users say social media makes them feel more connected to information about their friends' lives
- 70% of social media-using teens feel better connected to their friends' feelings through social media.
- 88% of teen social media users believe people share too much information about themselves on social media.
The responses somewhat reflect the trend towards more personal connection via text message - while 83% of teens use social media to stay connected to information about their friends' lives, the vast majority also feel that there's too much info being shared - and likely too much drama as a result. 53% of social media using teens also noted that they've seen people posting about events to which they weren't invited, and 42% noted that they'd had someone post something to social media about them that they couldn't change or control.
Given these factors, it's not surprising that teens are closing in their relationship circles and communicating in more intimate groups, as opposed to broadcasting via social platforms.
There's a range of other insights in the full Pew Report, and it's well worth reading to get an insight into how the younger generation views and utilizes social media and mobile technology for connective purposes.
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