Communications and social media (2023)


Teens inhabit a highly social world, one teeming with communications options; nevertheless, teens generally default to more traditional media – telephones (either landline or cell) and face-to-face communication. However, communication patterns are different among three groups of teens: content creators, social networkers, and “multi-channel teens” who use the internet, instant messaging, text messaging cell phones, and social networks.

Despite the influx of digital media into their lives, teens continue to rely on telephones to keep in touch with their friends.

While text-based digital communication technologies are increasingly prevalent, the telephone continues to reign as the instrument of choice when teenagers want to interact with their friends. However, those who have cell phones and those who are avid internet users have different communications profiles from the entire teen population.

Communications and social media (1)

Looking at how the average teen communicates with friends outside of school, phone, and face-to-face encounters are more common than online encounters. Nearly four in ten teens (39%) talk with their friends via landline every day, 35% talk by cell phone with friends, and 31% see their friends in person in settings outside of school.

It is important to note, too, that text-based, face-to-face, and telephonic communications with friends are not mutually exclusive. Fully 74% of teens engage in two or more of these communications activities on a regular basis (defined here as more than once a week).

Communications and social media (2)

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Once different subpopulations of teens are considered, communication preferences do shift. Youth who own cell phones are considerably more likely to use their mobile phones to talk to friends daily than they are to pick any other option, with 55% of this group saying they use their cell phones everyday to talk to friends.

“Multi-channel teens” who have many communications options are a breed apart.

The youth ages 12-17 who say they are active in all the communications realms we probed have a distinctly different profile from other teens. Multi-channel teens – those who have mobile phones and internet access, send text messages and instant-messages, and use social network sites – have many pathways to contact their friends. This group constitutes a bit more than a quarter (28%) of all the teens in our sample. They are older than the full sample and more likely to be girls. Socioeconomic status and race or ethnicity differences are not statistically significant for this group.

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These highly wired and connected teens are notable for the intensity with which they use connective technologies, layering new technologies over old, while sustaining an overall higher likelihood of daily use of all technologies. Multi-channel teens are most likely to use their cell phones to reach out to friends and then turn to internet tools – instant messaging and social networking site tools. They are even more likely to use email than the general population of teens, though for them, as for the rest of the online teen population, email is the least popular communications choice.

Face-to-face contact still matters.

All of these technology-based communication methods still do not replace face-to-face communication for many teenagers. In the general teen population, 31% of the teens in this survey reported that they spent time with friends in person doing social activities outside of school every day, 34% of teens reported that they did so several times a week, and 24% of teens reported that they spent time in-person with friends after school at least once a week. Older teens – the very people who are more often using other forms of communication like cell phones or instant messaging – are more likely to report spending time with friends in person doing social activities outside of school every day or several times a week than younger teens.

Across the spectrum, the communication activity that changes the least is the frequency of face-to-face encounters; 31% of all teens have this kind of interaction with friends every day outside of school; 34% of cell phone owners do so; 35% of multi-channel teens have such encounters; and 38% of social network site users have in-person meetings with friends every day.

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Email continues to lose its luster among teens.

Despite the power that email holds among adults as a major mode of personal and professional communication, it is not a particularly important part of the communication arsenal of today’s teens when they are dealing with their friends. According to focus group findings, email is falling into disfavor because teens have so many other options that allow immediate contact when they are away from computers, and because when they are on computers there are particular features of instant messaging and social network sites that make them more appealing ways to communicate. Said one high-school-aged girl, “Email is becoming obsolete. MySpace is so much quicker. It’s like text messaging on your phone. You can send pictures.”

Just 14% of all teens report sending emails to their friends every day, making it the least popular form of daily social communication. Younger online girls are the exception; 22% of girls ages 12-14 email friends daily, compared with 11% of younger boys and 13% of older teens. When compared with the number of teens who report talking to their friends every day by instant message (28%) and with a cell phone (35%), the amount of daily email use is small.

Girls and older teens are more frequent communicators.

Girls engage in a wider array of communication activities when compared with boys, and do so with greater frequency. Fully 95% of teenage girls participate several times a week in at least one communication activity, compared with 84% of boys. Similarly, older teens (ages 15-17) are more likely to engage in a large number of communications activities than are younger teens (ages 12-14).

In particular, older teens are more likely than younger teens to communicate with their friends using a cell phone; 81% of teens ages 15-17 send text messages or talk to their friends on a cell phone, compared with 56% of teens ages 12-14. This discrepancy is largely due to higher levels of cell phone ownership among older teens; 77% of teens ages 15-17 own a cell phone, compared with 49% of teens ages 12-14.

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Content creators are more active communicators than non-creators.

Overall, teens who create content are more likely than other teens to use text-based communication tools. Sending messages through social networking sites is their most popular method for communicating with friends; 94% of content creators who use social network sites have sent a message to friend through a social network site, compared with 86% of non-content-creators. Even though email is on the decline among teens in general, email is the surprise second most popular way of communicating with friends, with 79% of content creators saying that they’ve sent email to friends, compared with a little more than half (56%) of non-content-creators. Instant messaging is nearly as popular as email, with 77% of content creators saying that they have sent and received instant messages, compared with just 53% of non-creators. Text messaging is another frequently cited communication tool, with 61% of content creators text messaging friends, compared with just 40% of non-creators. Voice-based communication tools – landline telephones and calls made on a cell phone – are communication choices made equally by content creators and those who do not create content.

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Content creators are more likely than other teens to report communicating with their friends daily using all of the various means listed in this survey. Content creators are more likely to spend time with their friends every day, to talk to their friends either on a landline or cell phone every day, to send texts to their friends every day, to instant message with their friends on a daily basis, to send emails, and to send social networking site messages to their friends than non-content-creators.

Content creators stand out from non-content-creators in their intense daily use of instant messaging and social networking sites to communicate with friends. Fully 36% of content creators say they IM their friends every day compared with just 20% of non-content-creators, and 30% of content creators say they send messages to friends over social networking sites daily compared with only 10% of non-content-creators. There is significant overlap in the content creator and multi-channel teens populations – 36% of content creators are also multi-channel teens, compared with just 13% of non-creators.

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Overall, social network users are also “super-communicators,” utilizing all types and methods of communication to stay in touch with their friends with a frequency unmatched by other teens. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of cell-phone-owning social network users make cell phone calls to their friends on a daily basis, while 41% of cell phone owners who do not use social networks report calling friends with a cell phone daily.

Social network users are also more likely than non-social-networking users to talk to friends on a landline telephone on a daily basis, with 44% of social networking teens reporting such behavior compared to 34% of those without social network profiles.

Two-thirds (67%) of social network users have sent or received text messages, compared to just 38% of those not on social networks. Social network users are more likely than non-social-network users to text friends every day (36% vs. 17%), as well as to own a cell phone (75% vs. 54%).

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Similar to texting, social network users are more likely to send and receive instant messages and more likely to send and receive them more often. While 85% of social network users ever send instant messages, half (50%) of non-social-networking teens report using instant messaging. And social network users are nearly three times as likely to send instant messages every day, with 42% of social networking teens reporting daily instant messaging, compared to just 16% of non-social-network users.

Face-to-face interaction outside of school is another opportunity for social network users to stand out; 38% of social network users report talking to friends in person every day, while only 25% of non-social-networking teens report the same.

Even though email continues to fall into disfavor among young adults as a mode of communication, social network users still use email at a greater rate than non-social-networking teens. Indeed, nearly one in three (29%) of online teens say they never send or receive email from peers. Overall, 80% of social network users say they still use email to talk to friends, while 59% of non-social-network users report sending email to peers. Of those teens who use email to talk with friends, 21% of social networking teens use email every day, while only 7% of non-social-network users do the same.

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As with content creators, there is a significant overlap between social networking teens and multi-channel teens. More than half (52%) of social networking teens are also multi-channel communicators. And for social networking teens, the channels are even more numerous; within the category of sending messages over social networks, social network users have an additional set of communication tools at their disposal. The use of these tools by social network users is detailed in the chart below.

Communications and social media (7)

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What is the role of social media in communication? ›

Social media is about conversations, community, connecting with the audience and building relationships. It is not just a broadcast channel or a sales and marketing tool. Authenticity, honesty and open dialogue are key. Social media not only allows you to hear what people say about you, but enables you to respond.

What are the types of communication in social media? ›

5 Key types of social media communications and how to use them
  • Notices or status updates. These are time sensitive, short one-to-many communications. ...
  • Information distribution. ...
  • Commentary. ...
  • Discussion. ...
  • Messages.
Jun 8, 2015

Does social media count as communications? ›

Social media is a powerful communications medium, with widespread influence over cities as well as remote areas.

How social media changed the way of communication? ›

Social media has changed the way we communicate, but also who we communicate with. It has given people the ability to communicate across geography, cultures, and languages creating an interconnected community.

Does social media improve people's communication skills? ›

Social media does not only affect our ability to listen and engage with others, but also our ability to effectively communicate on paper.

Why is communication important? ›

In our daily life, communication helps us build relationships by allowing us to share our experiences, and needs, and helps us connect to others. It's the essence of life, allowing us to express feelings, pass on information and share thoughts. We all need to communicate.

What is the importance of social media? ›

Social media is typically used for social interaction and access to news and information, and decision making. It is a valuable communication tool with others locally and worldwide, as well as to share, create, and spread information.

How do media affect communication? ›

Reducing interactions to a few choice words on a screen can lead to misunderstandings and curtailed conversations. Engaging in a text conversation doesn't require us to make eye contact or consider another person's thoughts and feelings. Essentially, texting is lazy.

Why social media is the new trend in communication because? ›

Social media is revolutionizing communication because it brings a new level of efficiency to influencing social change. Social media campaigns led by individuals, nonprofits, NGOs, government, or businesses can illuminate social issues, environmental concerns, and positive philanthropic deeds.

Why do media matter in communication? ›

It gets your message across to a wider audience. The various forms of media – primarily television, newspapers and radio – spread and disseminate information. Getting your information into the media will spread your group's story further than it could be spread without media coverage.

Can social media replace real life communication? ›

Social media can help us communicate and enhance our lives, but using it as a substitute for face-to-face and physical interaction can do the opposite. It can also disconnect us from the real world by making us too busy caring about people we hardly know or about things which may not be true.

Does social media promote or harm real life communication? ›

The social media has positive as well as negative impacts on communication skills. Social networks have become the central facilitator for daily communication with peers, family and acquaintances. It is affecting our relationships and decreases the quality of inter-personal communication.

How does social media affect human interaction? ›

However, at the individual level, more social media use was positively associated with more in-person social interaction. The study also found that adolescents who spent the most time on social media and the least time in face-to-face social interactions reported the most loneliness.

What makes effective communication? ›

Effective communication is the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. When we communicate effectively, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied.

How important is communication nowadays? ›

Effective communication builds strong business and personal relationships, because you learn to understand what people want and how to give it to them. As people feel listened to and understood by you, you naturally improve your work environment.

What is the value of communication? ›

The value of communication is based on relevant and timely information. Without such information, there can be no effective communication. Most of us are content to socialize with people who think like ourselves. When we wish to communicate with others, there are opportunities for conflict.

What social media means? ›

Definition of social media

: forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)

Which social media most popular? ›


With nearly 3 billion monthly users, Facebook is inarguably the largest and most popular social media platform in the world.

What is the best social media platform? ›

Top 10 Social Media Platforms Compared
1Facebook$85.96 billion
2YouTube$28.8 billion
3WhatsApp$5.5 billion
4Instagram$24 billion
6 more rows
May 30, 2022

What is the positive effect of social media? ›

The positive aspects of social media

Social media enables you to: Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world. Find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions. Join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues.

What is the impact of social media in our life? ›

Multiple studies have shown that unlimited use of social media causes stress, bad moods and negative mental health. Many people wake up in the morning and immediately check their Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter.

What are the 10 benefits of social media? ›

Top 10 Benefits of Social Media in the Digital Era
  • Generate Online Traffic.
  • Staying Alive.
  • Better Conversion Rates.
  • Increasing Brand Loyalty.
  • Partnering up with Influencers.
  • Assessing the Competition.
Jun 16, 2020

What are the greatest challenges to good communication? ›

Common Barriers to Effective Communication
  • Dissatisfaction or Disinterest With One's Job. ...
  • Inability to Listen to Others. ...
  • Lack of Transparency & Trust. ...
  • Communication Styles (when they differ) ...
  • Conflicts in the Workplace. ...
  • Cultural Differences & Language.
Jul 18, 2018

What is the role of social media today? ›

In today's society, the use of social media has become a necessary daily activity. Social media is typically used for social interaction and access to news and information, and decision making. It is a valuable communication tool with others locally and worldwide, as well as to share, create, and spread information.

What is the importance of communication media? ›

The study of communication and media enables us to understand the world around us, from civic engagement to consumer behaviour – it prepares us to be future leaders and problem-solvers, and it challenges us to be curious and passionate critical thinkers.

What are the three main purposes of social media? ›

What are the three main purposes of social media? Informing, persuading, and building relationships of trust.

What are the benefits of social media? ›

Here are five benefits of using social media:
  • Build relationships. Social media is not just about brands connecting with their customers. ...
  • Share your expertise. Social media gives you an opportunity to talk about what you know and what you want to be known for. ...
  • Increase your visibility. ...
  • Educate yourself. ...
  • Connect anytime.
Apr 22, 2014

What is the positive effect of social media? ›

The positive aspects of social media

Social media enables you to: Communicate and stay up to date with family and friends around the world. Find new friends and communities; network with other people who share similar interests or ambitions. Join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues.

What is the impact of social media in our life? ›

Multiple studies have shown that unlimited use of social media causes stress, bad moods and negative mental health. Many people wake up in the morning and immediately check their Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter.

What is the relationship between communication and media? ›

The media are defined as communication sources that reach a wide audience , such as radio, television, magazines and newspapers. For small businesses, connecting with media outlets is often a prime way to attract customers and develop a name in the industry.

What are the 3 types of communication media? ›

When communication occurs, it typically happens in one of three ways: verbal, nonverbal and visual.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media? ›

Table of Contents
  • Advantages of Social Media. Connectivity. Education. Information and Updates. ...
  • Advantages of Social Media for Business. Brand Reputation. Brand Awareness. Customer Interaction. ...
  • Disadvantages of Social Media. Affects Social-Emotional Connection. Decreases Quick-witted Skill. Causing Distress to Someone's Feelings.
Jan 31, 2021


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