Menu IconA vertical stack of three evenly spaced horizontal lines. Too often when writing about what teenagers like, we neglect to talk to the most important group of all: teens. So we decided to put together all about teenagers State of the Union on the American teenager.
To learn what American teenagers in 2016 really like, and what they don’t, we polled about 60 of them from across the US. We spoke with teens ages 13 to 19, in middle school, high school, and college. We asked them about their digital lives and habits, the apps they use and the games they play, pop culture, and politics. Their answers offer a glimpse into what it’s like being a teenager in 2016. We’ve drawn out the highlights below, along with some data from other sources, so keep scrolling for our guide to teenagers in 2016.
For our survey on American teenagers, we talked to a group of about 60 teenagers from across the US, of various socioeconomic classes, grades, and ages. We didn’t want to focus on one particular geographic area, so we talked to teenagers from across the country, including California, Colorado, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Every teen we spoke with owned a smartphone, and most owned or regularly used a variety of devices, like gaming consoles, tablets, and desktop computers. Teens get their first smartphone when they’re 11. On average, the teens we spoke with received smartphones from their parents when they were 11 years old. 16 before she got a phone. Teens are shy to talk about how much time they spend on their phones, but it’s a lot.
We got lots of “too many” and “I’m embarrassed to say” responses, but the numbers we were able to get suggested teens spend about six hours a day on their phones. This is both in and out of school. And they’re spending lots of time in front of other screens, too. Teens aren’t only spending a ton of time online — they’re shopping online too. Clothing has been relatively immune to the rise of e-commerce because people still like to try things on before buying. But when it comes to teenage shoppers, the option of being able to try on clothing before buying is becoming less important, according to a survey conducted by Piper Jaffray in 2015. US teens say they prefer to shop for clothing online from retailers that also operate their own brick-and-mortar stores.
The most popular by a landslide: Snapchat. It’s no surprise that teenagers love Snapchat. It’s how I communicate with most of my friends and it’s fun. Snapchat, because it is fun to send your friends what you’re doing, and where you are in a fast and easy way.
I also like being able to make stories, for all of my friends to see, and I also enjoy seeing stories of my friends on it and see what they’re up to. Spotify was almost universally heralded as the best music app, and it was also listed as a favorite app by a lot of respondents. I use it to share music, to see what my friends are listening to, and to find new music. Instagram is a standby favorite of teens, who swear by its filters and direct-message feature.
I use Instagram to message my friends funny pictures I see on Instagram. Snapchat and Instagram, I love sharing photos all of the things I do and places I go. I also like seeing what others are up to. You might not expect Twitter to be among teens’ favorite apps. After all, the company is having a hard time attracting new users.