Teens Use Tech To Build Relationships, Not Destroy Them: Report

It’s a difficult world for today’s teenagers, at least according to the Internet. A slew of recent articles have hammered home a single narrative: that the pressure to curate their social media feeds is creating a culture of perfection that’s isolating teens from their friends and sending the generation into a downward spiral.

But teens themselves are telling a different story.

A new report released Tuesday as part of the Pew Research Center’s Teen Relationship Study presents a more complicated vision of the role technology plays in building and maintaining relationships. Teens (13 – 17 years old) who participated described Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and texting as important ways to build intimacy with peers. These mediums form a crucial part of their interactions with one another — a way of communicating that’s inextricable from the friendships themselves. Friendships now are born and bred digitally, and maybe, the study delicately hints, that’s not unconditionally a terrible thing.

For example, 83 percent of the 1,060 teens Pew surveyed online and in-person last fall told researchers that social media “makes them feel more connected to information about their friends’ lives,” while 70 percent said it also connects them to their friends’ feelings. Overall, participants were likely to characterize social media as a positive force in their life.

“More than three-quarters (78%) of teens say they do not feel worse about their own lives based on what others post to social media,” wrote the studies’ authors. Only 21 percent of teens said social media makes them feel worse. And, a full 68 percent told researchers they’d used social media during difficult times to receive support from friends and peers.

Pew also found that texting and social media were woven into this fabric of the participants’ constant communications. Indeed, while more than —> Read More