Half of teens say they use the internet almost all the time

New Research Suggests Nearly Half of U.S. Teens Say They Use the Internet “Almost” constant.”

The United States-based Pew Research Center released a study this month. It found that the proportion of teens who say they are almost always online rose from 24 percent in 2015 to 46 percent.

The results were based on a Pew poll conducted from April 14 to May 4. The study involved 1,316 teens ages 13 to 17.

The survey found that about 95 percent of American teens own a smartphone.

The study also asked teens about their behavior on social media. It found that the number of teens using Facebook has fallen to 32 percent, from 71 percent in 2015.

The research shows that teens have left Facebook to spend time on the video sharing services YouTube and TikTok. About 95 percent of teens said they use Google’s YouTube, while 67 percent said they use TikTok.

About 62 percent of teens said they use Instagram, which is owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta. About 59 percent said they use Snapchat. Less than a quarter of teens said they use Twitter.

“A quarter of teens who use Snapchat or TikTok say they use these apps almost constantly, and a fifth of teen YouTube users say the same,” the survey said.

The survey found that teenage boys are more likely than teenage girls to use YouTube or the Twitch and Reddit services. Teenage girls were more interested in using TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. In addition, higher shares of black and Hispanic teens reported using TikTok, Twitter and WhatsApp compared to white teens.

About 54 percent of teens surveyed said it would be “somewhat difficult” to give up on social media, while 46 percent said it would be “somewhat easy”. About 25 percent of teenage boys said giving up social media would be “very easy.” But only 15 percent of teenage girls said the same thing.

Online technology behavior experts have accused major tech companies of targeting teens with methods to get them to spend more time on their social media services. A method used algorithms to repeatedly suggest content to keep users on the Services for extended periods of time.

Children’s rights groups and members of the US Congress have warned that heavy use of social media services can harm the mental health of young users. They have called on major tech companies to take steps to mitigate such damage.

Several services – including Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok – have introduced Characteristics which they say are designed to make their services more secure and appropriate for young users.

The tools do offer some help, such as blocking unknown people from sending messages to children. But experts say the measures also have weaknesses. For example, teens can get around boundaries if they lie about their age. The services also rely largely on parents to enforce rules. And the measures do little or nothing to limit inappropriate and malicious material suggested by algorithms.

“This one platforms know that their algorithms sometimes strengthen malicious content, and they are not taking steps to stop it,” says Irene Ly. She is a privacy consultant with the nonprofit Common Sense Media group in San Francisco, California. Ly said the more teens love scrollthe more they become involved in the services.

She added that the longer teens spend on the services, the more profitable the tech companies become. “I don’t think they have too much” reward to change that,” Ly said.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Pew Research Center, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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Words in this story

constant adj. happens a lot or always

quarter -n. a fourth of something

algorithm n. a series of steps followed to solve a math problem or complete a computer process

feature n. a typical quality or important part of something

inappropriate adj. not suitable or suitable for a particular situation

platform -n. a business or service that allows someone to tell a large number of people about ideas or products

strengthen – v. to make a feeling or opinion stronger or clearer

role v. to move text or an image on a computer screen to go to a part you want to see

reward -n. something that encourages someone to do something or work harder

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