US & Canada

Six surprising facts about US teen media use

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Young people and teens are often portrayed as heavily involved with social websites and other online media. But new survey published this week has found some surprising information about how teenagers in the US spend their time.

The research was carried out by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organisation that aims to help parents and children successfully navigate the world of technology and media.

It surveyed almost 3,000 young people between eight and 18 years old. Here's what they found out about how teenagers use and engage with different types of media.

Average time spent with media

9 hours

Average amount spent with media per day for US teens

  • Includes watching TV, movies, and online videos, playing games, using social media and the internet and listening to music

  • Doesn't include time spent with media at school or for homework.


While nine hours is the average time teenagers spend with technology, 6% of those surveyed said they don't use screen media at all on any given day.

Social media use


of teens in the US use social media every day

  • 66% listen to music

  • 58% watch television


Teenage girls spend about 40 minutes more a day on social media than boys. In comparison, boys are more likely to spend time gaming.

Multi-tasking while doing homework?

  • 2/3rds of teens say using media while doing homework doesn't affect their work

  • 50% think that listening to music actually helps.


More than half of teens say they text, watch TV, use social media or listen to music while studying.

TV on traditional screens


of viewing time by US teens is spent watching TV as it is broadcast

  • 22% is spent watching online videos on platforms such as YouTube

  • 14% is spent watching TV shows or movies on another mobile device.


Mobile phones are the most popular way to watch TV and videos online. They account for 43% of time spent watching online media.

Social is not the favourite


said social media was their "favourite" media-related activity

  • Almost 1/3rd said listening to music was their favourite


While social media has become an integral part of most teenagers' lives, very few say it is their favourite.

Differences in income level

2 hours, 45 minutes

How much more time, on average, teens from lower-income homes spend with media than those in higher-income homes


Teens from lower-income families are no more likely to watch, listen or engage with media than those from higher income families but when they do, they tend to spend more time.

Black teenagers also report spending more time on average than white or Hispanic teens.

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