The Social Life of the App-Addicted Teen


App-Addicted Teens

As the digital Wild West forges ahead, it is our youth that are becoming the guinea pigs of this global experiment. The more that is realized regarding how platforms such as newfound apps affect teens, tweens and even toddlers, the more can be done to avoid any pitfalls.

It is no surprise that of the 95% of American teens that have access to the internet, 90% of them are on social media daily. With 78% owning a smartphone, the amount of captured audiences is astounding.

The New Teen

Most app-addicted teens (and younger) have no concept of leaving home early on a Saturday morning to meet friends for bike riding, pick-up ball games or just hanging out.

With a world that is hyper vigilant about their children’s safety (and for good reason), reaching for an electronic device has taken over the former scenario.

Most parents are perplexed by this addiction when in reality we are the ones that perpetuate it.

Therefore, the statistics are being tallied as a template to determine just where our children stand within this growing digital world.

Up and App ‘Em

As most children wake up, just like many adults, they reach for their device. However, rather than check their email for business related communication, it is social media that reigns king of their world.

Instead of sauntering, bleary eyed to the breakfast table, their minds are immediately engaged in deciphering posts by friends and followed celebrities.

56% claim to be on Facebook while 27% prefer Twitter. These numbers are forever changing, especially for Facebook which has become more of an “old person’s” platform.

As they get dressed for school, Instagram, the number one social network for teens, may be their go-to app. Posting that day’s outfit selfie or disenchanted “I hate going to school” grimace becomes their identity clarifier which more often than not offers a sense of belonging.

The Soundtrack

Music is another major staple on youth’s digital plate. No longer do groups of teens get together and listen to vinyl (although there is a comeback of this medium).

Instead, it is the per song purchase and play or the more popular streaming apps like Spotify and Pandora that keep kids plugged in and tuned out.

In turn, the music industry has been turned on its head, scrambling for innovative ways to bring in revenue. Streaming music companies seem to be the answer.

Teens are able to integrate music into their social media communication, sharing playlists and other music links such as YouTube videos.

However, according to most teachers, YouTube has shown to be an in-school distraction.

Getting Learned

Many schools, particularly universities, have adapted to embracing digital change. In fact, it is estimated that mobile devices in classrooms increase engagement and creativity.

Dr. Amy Gregory, an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management comments:

“I wanted a new and creative way to teach my course material and get the students more engaged; it just made sense to incorporate mobile learning tools into my instruction methodologies.”

This is where the digital world is bringing our children once they enter college. Middle and High School students are slowly beginning to experience this yet it is still found that mobile devices are being used for non-school activities with 86% dedicated to texting (90% of texts are answered within the first 3 seconds).

More Addicting Apps

Snapchat, a fleeting photo app that deletes moments after it is viewed (43% of users 12-24 use this everyday) and Vine, a six-second recording and sharing app (5 are created every second) are other popular apps. There is also Tumblr, another short visual post app that 65% of teens use everyday as well as Kik Messenger, WhatsApp, Ask.FM, Reddit and, of course, Twitter.

The statistics show how this generation of electronically addicted children and teens are paving the way for future generations to follow and/or learn from. It’s hard to say what it may all morph into. As these digital tethers become more advanced and relied upon, hopefully they will become less addicting and more utilized as progressive platforms for human advancement.

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About the Author:

Kids love social media but is social media great for every child? Social media can have negative effects on a kid's self-esteem. Here's how you can help.

Amy Williams is a journalist and mother of two in California. While technology offers many new and exciting opportunities to adults and teens alike, Amy hopes that widespread technology education will help users of new and emerging technologies be educated and informed. Find Amy on Google+and Twitter.

Related reading: Smartphone Addiction

Thoughts? Questions? Have your kids/students proven some of these statistics? Let us know in the comments!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Barbara says:

    Love this! Is there a way to print this so I can post it in my classroom???

    1. Try right clicking on a PC, save the image. If it is blurry, I will send over my.png version.

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