Teens and social media: navigating the digital landscape

Dec 13, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 11:22 am

71% of teens use YouTube at lease once a day as the video sharing platform is the most used social ...

News from Harvard researchers comes after a group of social media companies is suing Utah for its strong law targeting social media companies. A legal analyst weighs in on the lawsuit and the constitutionality of the Utah law. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

(Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — About one in three teens say that they are on either TikTok or YouTube several times a day, according to research by Pew.

According to the research, YouTube was ranked as the most used, though 71% of teens say they use the social media site at least once daily.

The study said social media is a “part of growing up.” Despite attempts by parents and the government to protect children and oversee tech companies, these efforts have generally failed to achieve the desired outcomes.

The top 5 social media apps were ranked as follows:

  1. YouTube 71% of teens at least once a day
  2. TikTok 58% of teens at least once a day
  3. Snapchat 51% of teens at least once a day
  4. Instagram 47% of teens at least once a day
  5. Facebook 19% of teens at least once a day

The survey gathered information from almost 1,500 13-17-year-olds online. 

Another study from Gallup found that more than 50% of teens spend at least 4 hours a day on social media.

Dr. Tom Golightly, a psychologist with Brigham Young University, said, “It’s probably not great” that teens use social media this much. 

Dr. Golightly says that Gen Z tend to base their worth on likes and the people behind the screens instead of those in front of them. He also mentions that it’s hard for other, older generations to understand why.

Bridging the gap

Dr. Golightly says that instead of saying no and fighting against the current, use it as a tool to bring the family together and “work with it a little bit.”

“Instead of saying no technology,” Dr. Golightly says, “maybe have a movie night where everyone gets to make a movie and then show it as a family.”

He says that watching the videos together “Old-school style” and sharing them with your family makes it a meaningful in-person connection and not a random person from halfway across the world double-tapping on a screen.


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Teens and social media: navigating the digital landscape