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THE INC. LIFE

Are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Good for Teenagers? It’s Complicated

One in three teenagers believe tech companies are manipulating them to spend more time on social media.

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BY Guadalupe Gonzalez - 12 Sep 2018

Are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Good for Teenagers? It's Complicated

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Social media is becoming a dominant force in the lives of teenagers.

During the last six years, social media use among U.S. teens aged 13 to 17 has increased dramatically, with 70 percent checking social media platforms multiple times a day, up from 34 percent in 2012, according to a study from Common Sense Media. The San Francisco-based nonprofit studies how tech and media impact kids. One of the driving factors behind this trend is growing smartphone ownership among teenagers, which has more than doubled, from 41 percent in 2012 to 89 percent today, the study said.

At the same time that teens are increasingly using social media apps like Facebook, Instagarm and Twitter, they admit to being wary of the companies behind these platforms. One in three teenagers believes that tech companies are manipulating them to spend more time on their devices, according to the study. The percentage who say they feel "addicted" to social media has risen only slightly, however, from 20 percent in 2012 to 24 percent today.

Though more than two-thirds of teens say social media has a negative impact on many people their age, 40 percent feel social media apps also strengthen relationships with friends and family by helping them make social plans and stay in touch when they're too busy to meet in person. Social media use can also have favorable and unfavorable consequences in that it helps teenagers suffering from depression find support groups and inspiration, but in other cases can worsen depression by locking teens in a negative feedback loop of "isolation and self-abnegation," according to the study.

Despite the rapid growth in social media use among teenagers, many remain torn on whether they're better off with or without it. Nearly half of teens surveyed--40 percent--said they agree with the statement, "I sometimes wish I could go back to a time when there was no such thing as social media."

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