Constant Companion: A Week in the Life of a Young Person's Smartphone Use
September 26, 2023
Smartphones have become a constant companion in our teens' lives. From connection with family and friends to entertainment and literal white noise, young people rely on their smartphones for different types of support, relaxation, and distraction—at home and at school, and during the day and night.
This new report fills a gap in understanding around how teens actually use their smartphones, combining data from kids' own phones with feedback from our Youth Advisory Council. Teens told us that the draw of their smartphone is both complicated and powerful. They're managing a barrage of notifications from the apps on their phones—buzzing almost constantly. Phone use in school is common, but policies are inconsistent. Smartphones both help and hurt their sleep, and apps like TikTok provide easy, effortless access to personalized content that provides both relaxation and distraction.
The good news is that many young people have grown savvier about how their phones try to draw them in, and they're taking steps to protect their digital well-being. But the business model of these apps and devices depends on users picking up their phones and engaging with them as much as possible, and it's clear that young people are struggling to set boundaries. Helping kids develop digital well-being requires support from parents, educators, and the tech industry itself.
Read the blog on how the tech industry can make managing smartphone use easier for young people
See our new guide to cellphones for parents and caregivers
For educators, check out our digital citizenship lesson on Design Tricks for grades 9–12