Nearly three-quarters of teens believe tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on phones

Posted at 8:50 AM, Sep 12, 2018

Nearly nine in ten teens have their own smartphone that is for them their preferred method of communication with their peers, according to a new study of teens released by Common Sense Media.

The study offers a unique side by side comparison between teens today in 2018 versus 2012 when a similar study was conducted. Back then only 41 percent of teens had a smartphone. Corresponding with that nearly 50 point jump in six years is the rise in the use of social media with 70 percent of teens saying they use it multiple times a day versus 34 percent in 2012.

One of the other notable adaptations to having a phone almost steadily at your fingertips is the change today's teens have seen in how they say they prefer to communicate with their friends with texting being the number one response at 35 percent. Old fashioned in-person communication fell by 17 points in that time from 49 to 32 percent.

As social media options change over the years, the study shows that the younger users are the ones moving the needle with 41 percent of them saying they prefer Snapchat followed by 22 percent for Instagram and 15 percent for Facebook.  Just six years ago, 68 percent of teens ranked Facebook as their number on choice.

Other findings include 57 percent of teens agree that using social media often distracts them when they should be doing homework, 54 percent say it distracts them when they should be paying attention to the people they're with, up from 44 percent in 2012.

One in five teen drivers say they check notifications while driving at least sometimes while 44 percent say they never do.

And interesting to note that teens believe to some extent that the draw of their phones is something beyond their control with 72 percent believing that tech companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices.