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Youth Statistics: Internet and Social Media

Digital Device Access and Usage

The vast majority of adolescents (age 13-17) have access to smartphones (95%, 2023 data), desktop or laptop computers (90%), gaming consoles (83%), and tablet computers (65%) [1]. There are disparities in device access by household income level: 72% of adolescents in lower-income households have access to a computer compared to 87% of middle-income households and 94% of higher-income households. Access to smartphones among adolescents is more evenly distributed across household levels. Access to gaming consoles differs by gender, with 91% of adolescent boys having access to a gaming console compared to 75% of adolescent girls [1]. Younger children's access to technology is rising, with 31% of eight-year-olds having phones in 2021 (up from 11% in 2015) [2].

Almost all teenagers (96%) report using the internet daily, with 46% reporting being on the internet almost constantly (up from 24% in 2015). The amount of time spent on the internet varies by age and race/ethnicity. Older teens ages 15 to 17 are more likely to report using the internet almost constantly compared to younger teens (50% vs. 40%). Additionally, White teens are the least likely to report being on the internet almost constantly (38%) compared to 54% of Black teens and 55% of Latinx teens [1].

A majority of adolescents (61%) report sometimes or often neglecting their daily obligations because they are using technology, and 67% report sometimes or often losing sleep because of late-night internet usage [3].

For much more information on access to digital devices and how much time young people spend on their devices, view The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2021 and Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023.


Smartphones are becoming a core component of young people's daily lives. According to Common Sense Media, half of adolescents (age 11-17) use their smartphones for over 4.5 hours a day. The median number of times that adolescents pick up their smartphones is 51 times per day, with 44% of older adolescents (age 16-17) picking up their smartphones more than 100 times per day. Throughout the day, more than half of adolescents receive over 200 notifications from their smartphones, with 23% of notifications arriving during school hours and 5% during school night hours. The majority of daily smartphone usage comes from social media apps (42%), YouTube (19%), and mobile games (11%) [3]. For more information on adolescent smartphone usage, view Constant Companion: A Week in the Life of a Young Person's Smartphone Use.

Social Interaction and Development


High school students text frequently, especially with friends, peers, and romantic partners but also, to a lesser extent, with parents [4].

Social Media Platforms

In 2023, the top social media platforms among teenagers were YouTube (93% of teens had ever used the platform), TikTok (63%), Snapchat (60%), Instagram (59%), Facebook (33%), and Discord (28%). On a daily basis, a majority of teens visit YouTube (71%), TikTok (58%), and Snapchat (51%), with Instagram at 47% [5]. However, usage of these social media platforms differs by teen's gender, race and ethnicity, age, and household income. More information on young people's use of these platforms can be found in the Pew Research Center's Teens and Social Media Fact Sheet.

Digital Media and Youth Development

While there has been quite a bit of research on negative aspects of the internet and social media, online environments and digital tools also offer young people positive ways to learn, grow, and connect with each other. Learn more about The Pros and Cons of Social Media for Youth on the Evidence-Based Living blog, and find resources on Youth, Media, and Technology from ACT for Youth. Visit Common Sense Media to learn about How Girls Really Feel About Social Media.

Digital Media and Bullying

Some teens use digital media (texting, gaming, social networking, etc.) to repeatedly harass, threaten, or embarrass a peer. In 2023, the Cyberbullying Research Center surveyed a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth age 13-17. They found that almost one in four (23%) teens had been bullied online in the last month, up from 16% in 2016 [6]. The Center's 2021 study found that teens who identify as transgender are more likely to be bullied online (35% compared to 24% girls and 22% boys). Similarly, youth who identify as LGBTQ (32%) are more likely to be bullied online than non-LGBTQ youth (22%). LGBTQ youth (7%) are also more likely to report that they have bullied others than are heterosexual youth (4%) [7]. For more information, visit Cyberbullying Statistics 2021: Age, Gender, Sexual Orientation, and Race.

High school students who are bullied online are frequently bullied in school as well, and many feel unsafe, get into fights, and carry weapons for protection [8].

Romantic Relationships and Flirting

A non-representative survey of high school students done by Montana State University on the impact of technology on romantic relationships found that almost all (95%) of high school students report that technology and social media have influenced adolescent dating relationships [9]. Many high school students also report that social media shapes expectations for romantic relationships in often unrealistic and gender-stereotyped ways. Additionally, 84% of high school students indicate that technology has become an integral part of romantic relationships. High school students report that technology helps them bridge physical communication barriers more easily, but many also note the increased risk of misunderstanding and conflict from communication that is not face-to-face.

Outside of romantic relationships, 34% of youth (age 13-24) also report using social media as a tool for flirting. Unfortunately, not all of this flirting is wanted. 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 [10]. Cell phones and social media can enable controlling behavior during 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 [10].


"Sexting" — sending sexually explicit messages or images electronically — is increasing among youth, and also increases through the teen years [11]. Sexting is often used as a form of flirting and is usually consensual [12]. Among youth under age 18, the prevalence of sending an explicit image or message is nearly 15% and the prevalence of receiving one is 27% [11]. Though it occurs less often than consensual sexting, non-consensual sexting is all too common: about one in eight youth forward explicit images or messages without the permission of the original sender, and nearly one in 12 youth have a sext forwarded without their consent [12].

Sexting may also be used to pressure someone into having sex or to actually extort money or sex from a victim ("sextortion") [12]. In 2019, a report found that at least 5% of teens had been the target of sextortion, with non-heterosexual teens having twice as much risk [13]. Boys are more likely than girls to be the victims of sextortion, and they are also much less likely to report their experiences to authorities because of feelings of shame and embarrassment. In most cases, victims of sextortion are targeted by current or former romantic partners or someone else they know [13]. Distributing sexually explicit images of a minor is illegal, and teens have been prosecuted in some cases [12]. Sexting laws vary greatly among U.S. states [12].

Sexting in adolescents has been linked to poor mental health outcomes, risky sexual behaviors, and feelings of humiliation and shame [14]. However, in the context of a mutually consenting relationship, sexting has been linked to a deepening of trust and intimacy [14].

Partner Seeking

Dating apps have become increasingly popular with young people. In 2017, YTH found that 34% of youth (age 13-24) have used an online dating site [15]. Youth report using these sites for a variety of reasons, including to make friends, find romantic relationships, go on dates, flirt online, and "hook-up" with someone [15].

A 2022 national survey of 15-17-year-olds found that 15% of those who were in relationships met their partner online. The percentage was slightly higher for non-heterosexual adolescents and for non-Hispanic adolescents. Adolescents in relationships with partners they met online are more likely to have a greater than two-year age difference compared to youth in relationships with partners they met in person [16].

One non-representative, national study of young (age 14-17), sexually experienced men who have sex with men (MSM) found that just over half use MSM-specific apps to find partners for sex while 30% use general dating apps. Most of the participants (83%) who use the apps or websites reported that they do so because of a lack of access to male partners. Some (31%) do so to avoid being outed. Most of the adolescent males in this study reported that they use MSM-specific apps to meet partners for sex (69%), but they also use them to chat with friends (66%), meet new friends (61%), or find a romantic partner (50%) [17]. Some studies have linked the use of dating apps to risky sexual behavior, such as condomless anal or vaginal sex [17, 18].


Video Watching

Common Sense Media reports that watching videos online is an extremely popular activity, with 77% of teens saying they watch daily [2]. Piper Sandler's Spring 2024 report identified Netflix as the most popular video platform among teens, closely followed by YouTube [19].


Gaming is also very popular, particularly among boys. The Common Sense survey found that 60% of boys and 24% of girls age 8-18 said they like playing video games "a lot." On average, teen boys spend almost 2.5 hours per day playing video games compared to 1 hour per day for teen girls [2].


Most adolescents (73%) report having seen pornography by age 17, and 54% report having seen pornography by age 13. However, only 44% of adolescents report having viewed pornography intentionally. Rates of intentional pornography consumption are higher among cisgender boys (52%) and transgender and nonbinary youth (66%) than among cisgender girls (36%) [20].

Just under half of youth who have seen pornography (45%) report that pornography provides helpful information about sex while only 27% report that it accurately shows sex. A slight majority of teen viewers of pornography (52%) say they have been exposed to pornography depicting violence, aggression, or a lack of consent. Many youth of color report having been exposed to pornography depicting people of their own race or ethnicity in a stereotypical way [20].

Health Information

Hopelab conducted a survey of teens' (age 14-17) and young adults' (age 18-22) use of digital media to access health information and resources. In 2018, they found [21]:

  • The vast majority (87%) of teens and young adults go online for health information, particularly about fitness, nutrition, stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Nearly half of teens (49%) and most young adults (76%) have used mobile health apps.
  • 90% of respondents with symptoms of depression go online for information about mental health.

For more of the study's findings, visit Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S.

A 2017 qualitative study by YTH described Google as a popular but not entirely trusted way to get sexual health information [15]. According to the study, young people regard health professionals as the best resource for answering their sexual health questions, but Google was often the first stop, sometimes replacing a health care visit. The privacy and speed offered by the internet make it especially appealing to young people. Young people who are afraid to turn to parents or other adults with their questions are especially likely to use the internet to find sexual health information. The study is reported at TECHsex: Youth Sexuality and Health Online.


  1. Anderson, M., Faverio, M., & Gottfried, J. (2023). Teens, Social Media and Technology, 2023. Pew Research Center.

  2. Rideout, V., Peebles, A., Mann, S., & Robb, M. B. (2022). The Common Sense census: Media use by tweens and teens, 2021.

  3. Radesky, J., Weeks, H. M., Schaller, A., Robb, M., & Lenhart, A. (2023). Constant Companion: A Week in the Life of a Young Person's Smartphone Use. Common Sense.

  4. Ehrenreich, S. E., Beron, K. J., Burnell, K., Meter, D. J., & Underwood, M. K. (2020). How adolescents use text messaging through their high school years. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 30(2), 521-540.

  5. Faverio, M. (2024). Teens and Social Media Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center.

  6. Patchin, J. W. (2023, October 4). Cyberbullying continues to rise among youth in the United States. Cyberbullying Research Center.

  7. Hinduja, S. (2021, October 21). Cyberbullying statistics 2021: Age, gender, sexual orientation, and race. Cyberbullying Research Center.

  8. Kreski, N. T., Chen, Q., Olfson, M., Cerdá, M., Martins, S. S.,...Keyes, K. M. (2022). Experiences of online bullying and offline violence-related behaviors among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents, 2011 to 2019. Journal of School Health.

  9. Vateraus, J. M., Tulane, S., Porter, B. D., & Beckert, T. E. (2018). The perceived influence of media and technology on adolescent romantic relationships. Journal of Adolescent Research, 33(6), 651-671.

  10. Lenhart, A., Anderson, M., & Smith, A. (2015, October). Teens, technology and romantic relationships. Pew Research Center.

  11. Madigan, S., Ly, A., Rash, C. L., Ouytsel, J. V., & Temple, J. R. (2018). Prevalence of multiple forms of sexting behavior among youth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(4), 327-335.

  12. Strasburger, V. C., Zimmerman, H., Temple, J. R., & Madigan, S. (2019). Teenagers, sexting, and the law. Pediatrics, 143(5), e20183183.

  13. Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2022). Teen sexting: A brief guide for educators and parents. Cyberbullying Research Center.

  14. Doyle, C., Douglas, E., & O'Reilly, G. (2021). The outcomes of sexting for children and adolescents: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of Adolescence, 92, 86-113.

  15. Lykens, J., Pilloton, M., Silva, C., Schlamm, E., & Sheoran, B. (2017). TECHsex: Youth Sexuality and Health Online. YTH.

  16. Tienda, M., Goldberg, R. E., & Westreich, J. R. (2022). Adolescents' partner search in the digital age: Correlates and characteristics of relationships initiated online. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 51, 393-498.

  17. Macapagal, K., Moskowitz, D. A., Li, D. H., Carrión, A., Bettin, E., Fisher, C. B., & Mustanski, B. (2018). Hookup app use, sexual behavior, and sexual health among adolescent men who have sex with men in the United States. Journal of Adolescent Health, 62(6), 708-715.

  18. Sawyer, A. N., Smith, E. R., & Benotsch, E. G. (2018). Dating application use and sexual risk behavior among young adults. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 15(2), 183-191.

  19. Piper Sandler Companies. (2024, Spring). Taking Stock With Teens ®.

  20. Robb, M. B. & Mann, S. (2023). Teens and pornography. Common Sense.

  21. Rideout, V. & Fox, S. (2018). Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-Being Among Teens and Young Adults in the U.S. Hopelab and Well Being Trust.

Page last updated April 17, 2024