Teens can get hundreds of notifications a day.
Teens can get hundreds of notifications a day.

The Buzz on Teen Phones

A study looks at how phones affect the lives of young people.

Buzz! Beep! Ping!

Phone are always calling out for attention. They pop up to tell a person there’s something to see on their phone. A new message came in. A fresh video went up. A big story is breaking in the news. It’s hard not to look. Experts wanted to find out how these phone distractions impact the lives of young people. So, they went straight to the source — teen and preteen phone users.

A group called Common Sense Media did this study. It gathered data from the phones of about 200 people between the ages of 11 and 17. The experts found that the teens checked their phones more than 100 times a day on average. More than half of the teens got at least 237 notifications each day, and some teens got nearly 5,000 notifications in a day.

Most of the notifications come from friends on apps, and one app was especially popular for ticking the time away. The teens spent the most time on the video app TikTok. On average, the teens spent about two hours a day on TikTok, but some spent more than seven hours per day on the app.

The study also found that phones affect the sleep of the teens — in both good ways and bad. Some teens play calming background noise on their phones to help them drift off to dreamland. But others stay up late scrolling through posts online and end up not getting enough rest.

James Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, said, “Teens are struggling to manage their phone use.” He explained that this “is taking a serious toll on their ability to focus and overall .” Steyer added, “Young people need more support from family members and educators.”

Jenny Radesky is an expert in children’s health and medicine and a co-author on the study’s report. She agrees that phone use can bring up some challenges. “Smartphones have become an always-on, sometimes disruptive force in the lives of young people,” she said. But she added that “teens are working hard to be savvy about design features and how to set ."

There are many ways to cut down on phone use. People can turn off notifications or set time limits for each app. It can help to move social media app icons off the main phone screen, so they are a little bit harder to get to. And putting a phone in grayscale mode turns the screen to black and white, which gets rid of bright colors that draw the eye.

The experts talked to teens about the study results. Some young people shared about the apps that draw them in. And one remembered a time when they lost their phone altogether. “I didn’t have a phone for a week, and that week was amazing,” the 11th-grader said. “Just not having a phone, it takes this weight off of you. It almost sets you free in a way."

Updated September 28, 2023, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Ashley Morgan

Teens can get hundreds of notifications a day.
Teens can get hundreds of notifications a day.

Buzz! Beep! Ping!

Phone are always calling out for attention. They pop up to tell a person there’s something to see on their phone. A new message came in. A fresh video went up. A big story is breaking in the news. It’s hard not to look. Experts wanted to find out how these phone distractions impact the lives of young people. So, they went straight to the source — teen and preteen phone users.

A group called Common Sense Media did this study. It gathered data from the phones of about 200 people between the ages of 11 and 17. The experts found that the teens checked their phones more than 100 times a day on average. More than half of the teens got at least 237 notifications each day, and some teens got nearly 5,000 notifications in a day.

Most of the notifications come from friends on apps, and one app was especially popular for ticking the time away. The teens spent the most time on the video app TikTok. On average, the teens spent about two hours a day on TikTok, but some spent more than seven hours per day on the app.

The study also found that phones affect the sleep of the teens — in both good ways and bad. Some teens play calming background noise on their phones to help them drift off to dreamland. But others stay up late scrolling through posts online and end up not getting enough rest.

James Steyer, the founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, said, “Teens are struggling to manage their phone use.” He explained that this “is taking a serious toll on their ability to focus and overall .” Steyer added, “Young people need more support from family members and educators.”

Jenny Radesky is an expert in children’s health and medicine and a co-author on the study’s report. She agrees that phone use can bring up some challenges. “Smartphones have become an always-on, sometimes disruptive force in the lives of young people,” she said. But she added that “teens are working hard to be savvy about design features and how to set ."

There are many ways to cut down on phone use. People can turn off notifications or set time limits for each app. It can help to move social media app icons off the main phone screen, so they are a little bit harder to get to. And putting a phone in grayscale mode turns the screen to black and white, which gets rid of bright colors that draw the eye.

The experts talked to teens about the study results. Some young people shared about the apps that draw them in. And one remembered a time when they lost their phone altogether. “I didn’t have a phone for a week, and that week was amazing,” the 11th-grader said. “Just not having a phone, it takes this weight off of you. It almost sets you free in a way."

Updated September 28, 2023, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Ashley Morgan

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