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Teens prefer texting vs. talking in person

Text messaging is now the most popular form of communication among teenagers, according to a survey conducted by Common Sense.

Teenagers overwhelmingly preferred in-person communication six years ago, with almost 1 in 2 saying it was their favorite way of communicating in 2012. But face-to-face conversations have given way to text messages as teens’ preferred form of communication in 2018, with 35 percent saying they prefer texting, compared to 32 percent who say they favor in-person interaction.

The decline in face-to-face communication occurred as smartphones have become ubiquitous among teens. While in 2012, 41 percent of teens had a smartphone, that number has skyrocketed to 89 percent in 2018.

Video-chatting and social media are also growing more prevalent. Sixteen percent of teens said social media is their favorite way of communicating in 2018, compared to 7 percent in 2012. Only 2 percent of teenagers said video-chatting was their favorite way of connecting with others in 2012; in 2018, five times as many said they favored video-chatting over other forms of communication.

Twice as many teens are on social media in 2018 compared to six years ago. Seventy percent of teens are using social media multiple times a day. Snapchat is the app of choice, with four in 10 teens calling the app their main social media site. Instagram and Facebook ranked second and third, respectively, with 22 percent and 15 percent reporting those apps as their social-media mainstay.

“Social-media platforms are central to every aspect of teens’ lives, from how they stay in touch with friends to how they engage with politics,” Common Sense wrote in a statement accompanying the report. “And constantly refreshing their social feeds can feel simultaneously positive and negative: Teens say social media strengthens their relationships but also distracts them from an in-person connection.”

Nearly 3 in 4 teens said they believed that social-media apps are manipulating them to spend more time on their smartphones. More than half said that their parents would be much more worried about social media if they knew what happens on the platforms.