Teens using tech: the latest from Pew Research

Pew Research Center logoThe always essential Pew Research Center updates us on their ongoing research into how American teens use technology.  As always, this is useful stuff, especially for anyone in education.

Let me pull out details that struck me.

Hardware: a mix of old and recent.  Note that desktops and laptops remain the most relied upon technology, followed by gaming consoles.  Smartphones follow, ahead of tablets.

Hardware teens own or rely on

Race and technology: blacks and Latinos are more likely to use mobile devices and to use the internet in general than are whites.

  • “African-American teens are the most likely of any group of teens to have a smartphone, with 85% having access to one, compared with 71% of both white and Hispanic teens.”
  • “Among African-American teens, 34% report going online “almost constantly” as do 32% of Hispanic teens, while 19% of white teens go online that often.”
  • “46% of Hispanic and 47% of African-American teens using a messaging app compared with 24% of white teens.”
  • “Hispanic teens are more likely to report using Google+ than white youth”

Blacks and Latinos are also more likely than whites to play computer games: “83% of African-American teens play games compared with 71% of white and 69% of [Latino] teens.”*

Class and technology: the wealthier the teen’s family, the more likely they are to use Snapchat and, to a less extent, Twitter.  The poorer, the more important is Facebook:

Teens using different social media platforms, broken down by wealth

Trend to watch: class-based anti-Facebook snobbery.  Let’s see if the New York Times reveals this.

Also indicated by class is phone ownership.  “Teens from higher income families and households where parents have higher levels of educational attainment are among the most likely to own a smartphone.”

Gender and tech: girls tend to prefer social media, especially “visually-oriented” platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram. “Girls, especially older ones, are the major users of these sites, with 33% of girls and 11% of boys using the boards,” a 3:1 ratio. Boys tend to prefer games.

Visually oriented social media versus games

Girls also text more frequently.

Facebook is very much not dead to teens, being “the most used social media site among American teens ages 13 to 17 with 71% of all teens using the site”.  However, Audrey Watters points out “that’s down from a few years ago”.  Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Snapchat are the next most popular.

Also very much alive: texting. “Some 88% of teens have or have access to cell phones or smartphones and 90% of those teens with phones exchange texts. A typical teen sends and receives 30 texts per day.”

Tumblr and gender: 6% of girls use Tumblr, while only 1% of boys.  That’s a 6:1 ratio – a huge difference. “Not a surprise for anyone who has spent any time on Tumblr” – Aram Zucker-Scharff.

Discussion boards: still alive.  “One-in-six teens (17%) read or comment on discussion boards like reddit or Digg.”

What does this mean for educators?  A few thoughts.

  • If we’re serious about reaching out to nonwhites, we must emphasize mobile.  That includes basic cell phones, the oft-neglected featurephone.
  • If we’re serious about reaching out to the poor, we need to use Facebook.
  • Gaming is *huge*, and we can’t ignore it.  Note this point: “Teens who play video games cross the socio-economic spectrum evenly, with little variation by family income or education.”
  • Devices are seriously plural.  There’s no one device to rule them all.  “The majority of youth have access to three or four of the five items asked about on the survey — desktop or laptop computer, smartphone, basic phone, tablet and game console.”

*The text reads “69% of black teens”, but I think that’s a typo.

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3 Responses to Teens using tech: the latest from Pew Research

  1. Thanks for the analysis to go with the stats. Favorite quotation: “Trend to watch: class-based anti-Facebook snobbery. Let’s see if the New York Times reveals this.”

  2. Pingback: Trends to watch in 2016: technologies | Bryan Alexander

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