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Demographics
In this section, we offer selected statistics regarding U.S. youth, together with a few statistics focused on New York State. Links and endnotes will connect you to rich resources for further information. These pages are updated periodically.
Youth and Media
For additional resources focusing on youth and media, see these ACT for Youth publications:

Adolescents and the Internet

Media Literacy

Technology and Social Media for Adolescent Sexual Health

Using Media and Technology to Improve Sexual Health Outcomes for Youth

Demographics: Internet and Social Media

For additional resources, visit Toolkit: Teens and Media. Access to Smartphones Among Youth Age 13-17According to the Pew Research Center, most middle and high school age youth have access to a computer (87%) and/or tablet (58%) at home. Nearly three out of four teens age 15-17 have (or have access to) a smartphone, as do 68% of 13-14 year-olds. Black youth are especially likely to have smartphones; 85% of black, 71% of white, and 71% of Latino youth age 13-17 have access to smartphones. Twelve percent of teens have no mobile phone at all. Most teens (81%) -- especially boys (91%) -- have game consoles. Only 1% of teens report that they do not have access to a computer, tablet, mobile phone, or game console [1].

Communication

Email is not popular among teens; in 2011, 54% of teens age 12-17 reported that they never use email at all [2]. Texting is a common communication tool for American teens; among cell phone owners, 90% text [1]. Teen girls age 13-17 typically send and receive 40 texts each day, while boys are half as prolific [1].

Nearly half of teens use video chat services such as Skype and Facetime [1].

Social networking sites offer another popular vehicle for communication. Nine out of ten teens age 13-17 use social media platforms, and most (71%) use more than one [1].

  • Facebook continues to be used by teens; 77% of teens age 14-17 have Facebook accounts [1]. The site is somewhat more popular among urban than suburban teens, but it is widely used across all racial/ethnic groups [1].
     
  • Instagram is used for photo and video sharing by about half of teens, especially older girls (64%) [1]. Older girls are also more likely to use Snapchat (56%) [1].
     
  • Twitter is far less popular, but its popularity is growing. One-third of all teens age 13-17, and half of girls, now use Twitter [1].
     
  • Google+ is also used by one-third of teens, and is especially popular among Latino teens (48%) [1].

Pornography, Flirting, Sexting, and Partner Seeking

A nationally representative study conducted in 2005 found that 34% of youth age 10-17 intentionally visit X-rated websites [3]. Boys reported more interest than girls, with 38% of boys age 16-17 seeking out pornography compared to 8% of girls that age [3]. Many youth are exposed to pornography online that they are not seeking. A 2010 study found that 23% of online youth age 10-17 had been exposed to unwanted sexual material [4].

Teens make new friends online but are less likely to date or hook up with someone they first met online. Flirting or expressing romantic interest is common on social media sites. Most teens who have some dating experience will send flirtatious messages online; teens who have not dated are much less likely to do so. Many dating teens, especially boys, feel more connected to their romantic partner through social media. While most teens say that breaking up by text is socially unacceptable, nearly one in three teens age 13-17 have been told via text that the relationship was over. [5].

A recent synthesis of research literature found that about 10% of youth age 10-19 engage in "sexting" -- sending sexually explicit messages or images electronically [6]. Among teens age 13-17 who have dating experience, 8% have sent an embarrassing photo of a current or former romantic partner to another person [5]. Distributing sexually explicit images of a minor is illegal, and teens have been prosecuted in some cases. Prosecution is more likely if sexting is related to coercion, bullying, or violence, or if the victim is much younger than the person distributing the photos [7]. Fifteen percent of dating teens have had rumors spread about them online or by phone by current or former partners [5].

One study of high school students in Southern California found that 5% had used the internet to look for sexual partners, and 17% had been asked online for sex by someone they did not know [8].

Adolescent girls take the brunt of unwanted online flirting. While 16% of boys age 13-17 have blocked or "unfriended" a person who was making unwanted advances, 35% of girls have done so [5]. Cell phones and social media can facilitate controlling behavior before and after a relationship. Among teens age 13-17 who have dated, 13% have had a partner demand that passwords be shared, 11% have been threatened with harm online or by phone, and 8% have had online posts used against them [5].

Media and Bullying

Some teens use social media (texting, blogs, social networking, etc.) to harass, threaten, or embarrass a peer. Studies on prevalence vary widely; a recent literature review found that prevalence ranged among studies from 7%-35% [9]. On average, 26% of middle and high school students who have participated in studies conducted by the Cyberbullying Research Center have been victims, and 16% admit to having been perpetrators at some point in their life [10]. Traditional school bullying is associated with cyberbullying for both victims and perpetrators [9].

Endnotes

[1]   Lenhart, A. (2015, April). Teens, social media & technology overview 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2016 from the Pew Research Center website:
pewinternet.org/files/2015/04/PI_TeensandTech_Update2015_040915.p
df

 
[2]   Lenhart, A. (2012, March 19). Communication choices. Retrieved April 27, 2016 from the Pew Research Internet Project:
pewinternet.org/2012/03/19/communication-choices/
 
[3]   Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D. (2007). Unwanted and wanted exposure to online pornography in a national sample of youth internet users. Pediatrics 119, 247-257. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-1891
 
[4]   Mitchell, K. J., Jones, L., Finkelhor, D., & Wolak, J. (2014, February). Trends in unwanted exposure to sexual material: Findings from the Youth Internet Safety Studies. Retrieved April 27, 2016 from the Crimes Against Children Research Center:
unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/Unwanted%20Exposure%203%20of%204%20YISS%20Bullet
ins%20Feb%202014.pdf

 
[5]   Lenhart, A., Anderson, M., & Smith, A. (2015, October). Teens, technology and romantic relationships. Retrieved April 27, 2016 from the Pew Research Center website:
pewinternet.org/2015/10/01/teens-technology-and-romantic-relation
ships/

 
[6]   Klettke, B., Hallford, D. J., & Mellor, D. J. (2014). Sexting prevalence and correlates: A systematic literature review. Clinical Psychology Review, 34, 44-53. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2013.10.007
 
[7]   Lorang, M. R., McNiel, D. E., & Binder, R. L. (2016). Minors and Sexting: Legal Implications. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 44(1), 73-81.
 
[8]   Rice, E., Winetrobe, H., Holloway, I. W., Montoya, J., Plant, A., & Kordic, T. (2015). Cell phone internet access, online sexual solicitation, partner seeking, and sexual risk behavior among adolescents. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 755-763. doi:1007/s10508-014-0366-3
 
[9]   Bottino, S. M. B., Bottino, C. M. C., Regina, C. G., Correia, A. V. L., & Ribeiro, W. S. (2015). Cyberbullying and adolescent mental health: Systematic review. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 31. doi:10.1590/0102-311X00036114
 
[10]   Patchin, J. W. (2015, May). Summary of our cyberbullying research. Retrieved April 27, 2016 from the Cyberbullying Research Center:
cyberbullying.org/summary-of-our-cyberbullying-research/
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