Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives

A Common Sense Research Study
June 26, 2012

Most teens prefer face-to-face communication, and many of them think using social media can interfere with that.

Despite being avid social media users, talking to each other in person is still teens' favorite way to communicate. About half (49%) of all teens say their favorite way to communicate with their friends is in person. Texting is the next favorite (33%), with social networking (7%), talking on the phone (4%), and Twitter (1%) far behind.

The main reasons kids prefer face-to-face conversations are that they're more fun (38%) and that they can understand what people really mean better in person (29%). The main reasons some kids prefer texting is that it's quick (30%) and easy (23%); others say it gives them more time to think about how to respond (16%) or is more private (11%).

Some teens think there is a trade-off between social media use and face-to-face communication. A third of teens (34%) agree either strongly or somewhat that using social media takes away from time they could be spending with people face-to-face, and 44% agree at least "somewhat" that using social media often distracts them from the people they're with when they do get together in person.

Social media use does affect how some teens interact with one another. Nearly a third (31%) of social media users say they've flirted with someone online that they wouldn't have flirted with in person, and 25% say they've said something bad about someone online that they wouldn't have said in person.