Teens’ Social Media Habits and Experiences

Social Media Habits and Experiences

mid growing concern over social media’s impact and influence on today’s youth, a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens finds that many young people acknowledge the unique challenges – and benefits – of growing up in the digital age.

Today, social media use is nearly universal among teens.1 While notable shares say they at times feel overwhelmed by the drama on social media and pressure to construct only positive images of themselves, they simultaneously credit these online platforms with several positive outcomes – including strengthening friendships, exposing them to different viewpoints and helping people their age support causes they care about.

Roughly eight-in-ten teens ages 13 to 17 (81%) say social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives, while around two-thirds say these platforms make them feel as if they have people who will support them through tough times. And by relatively substantial margins, teens tend to associate their social media use with positive rather than negative emotions, such as feeling included rather than excluded (71% vs. 25%) or feeling confident rather than insecure (69% vs. 26%).

Young people also believe social media helps teens become more civically minded and exposes them to greater diversity – either through the people they interact with or the viewpoints they come across. Roughly two-thirds of teens say these sites help people their age interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, find different points of view or show their support for causes or issues. And they see digital environments as important spaces for youth to connect with their friends and interact with others who share similar interests. For example, 60% of teens say they spend time with their friends online on a daily or nearly daily basis, and 77% say they ever spend time in online groups and forums.

The survey also illustrates the ways in which teens navigate social norms around what – and how often – they post to these sites. It is much more common for young people to post about their accomplishments or family life than to discuss their personal problems or political beliefs on social media. And while Millennials – some of whom are just older than teens – have been deemed the “selfie generation,” roughly half of today’s teens say they rarely (25%) or never (26%) post selfies on social media.

Social Media Habits and Experiences

For some teens, sharing their life online can come with added social burdens: Around four-in-ten say they feel pressure to only post content on social media that makes them look good to others (43%) or share things that will get a lot of likes or comments (37%).

At the same time, the online environment for today’s teens can be hostile and drama-filled – even if these incidents may fall short of more severe forms of cyberbullying. Some 45% of teens say they feel overwhelmed by all the drama on social media, with 13% saying they feel this way “a lot.” And a similar share of teens (44%) say they often or sometimes unfriend or unfollow others on social media. When asked why they’ve digitally disconnected from others, 78% of this group report doing so because people created too much drama, while 52% cite the bullying of them or others.

These are some of the key findings from the Center’s survey of 743 teens, ages 13 to 17, conducted March 7-April 10, 2018. Throughout the report, “teens” refers to those ages 13 to 17.

Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet

Post-Millennials

As a new generation of Americans begins to take shape and move toward adulthood, there is mounting interest in their attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle. But how will this generation change the demographic fabric of the United States? A new Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data finds that the “post-Millennial” generation is already the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, as a bare majority of 6- to 21-year-olds (52%) are non-Hispanic whites. And while most are still pursuing their K-12 education, the oldest post-Millennials are enrolling in college at a significantly higher rate than Millennials were at a comparable age.

The parents of post-Millennials are more well educated than the parents of Millennials and those of previous generations, and this pattern most likely contributes to the relative affluence of the households in which post-Millennials live. More than four-in-ten post-Millennials (43%) are living with at least one parent who has a bachelor’s degree or more education. Roughly a third (32%) of Millennials in 2002 had a parent with this level of education.

The high school dropout rate for the oldest post-Millennials (ages 18 to 20 in 2017) is significantly lower than that of similarly aged Millennials in 2002. And among those who were no longer in high school in 2017, 59% were enrolled in college – higher than the enrollment rate for 18- to 20-year-old Millennials in 2002 (53%) and Gen Xers in 1986 (44%).

The generation labeled “post-Millennials” in this report – referred to elsewhere as Generation Z, the iGen or Homelanders – includes those born after 1996. Pew Research Center uses the label “post-Millennials” as a placeholder until more consensus emerges as to their name.

For purposes of this analysis, the post-Millennial generation spans 16 years, the same number of years as the Millennial generation (now ages 22 to 37). That may change as well, as this new generation – and the factors that shape it – come into sharper focus.

This report compares the post-Millennials in 2018 with earlier generations when they were ages 6 to 21, examining their demographic characteristics as well as those of their parents and households.

Other key findings:

    • The oldest post-Millennials are less likely than their predecessors to be in the labor force. Only 58% of today’s 18- to 21-year-olds worked in the prior calendar year; this compares with 72% of Millennial 18- to 21-year-olds in 2002. And employment among post-Millennials is less likely to be full-time compared with earlier generations. This is likely due, in large part, to the fact that these young adults are more likely than their predecessors to be enrolled in college.

Post-Millennials

  • The living arrangements of post-Millennial children are similar to those of Millennials when they were growing up. About two-thirds (65%) of today’s 6- to 17-year-olds live with two married parents, slightly lower than the share (68%) of Millennials in that age range who lived in this type of household in 2002. Roughly three-in-ten post-Millennials ages 6 to 17 (31%) live with a single parent, somewhat higher than the share of Millennials growing up with a single parent in 2002 (27%).2
  • The median household income of post-Millennials exceeds that of earlier generations when they were young. The typical post-Millennial in 2018 lives in a household with an annual income of roughly $63,700 after adjusting for household size. That is slightly higher than the income for the typical household in which Millennials grew up – $62,400 in 2002 in inflation-adjusted dollars – and it far surpasses the income of Gen X and Baby Boomer households when they were growing up. This is consistent with the relatively high education of the parents of post-Millennials.