May 21, 2012

Teens Fact Sheet

Highlights of the Pew Internet Project’s research on teens.

(Note: This page contains data from our 2012 survey. For more recent data on teens and technology, please visit  Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.)

Internet access:

Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online (September 2012 survey).

Teen and adult internet adoption over time

See: Teens and Technology 2013

Mobile (September 2012 data, except where noted):

Teen phone demographics

As of September 2012 78% of teens have a cell phone and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones.  That translates into 37% of all teens who have smartphones, up from just 23% in 2011. (Teens and Technology 2013)

Three-quarters (74%) of teens have accessed the internet through a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.  One-quarter of teens (25%) access the internet mostly on a cell phone. (Teens and Technology 2013)

Computer and device ownership:

Eight out of ten teens have a desktop or laptop computer. Among the 20% of teens who do not have their own computer, two-thirds (67%) have access to one they can use at home.  Taken together, this means that 93% of teens have a computer or access to one.

71% of teen computer users say the computer they use most often is shared with family members.

One-quarter (23%) of teens have a tablet computer, a level comparable to the general adult population (25% of American adults have a tablet computer).

Teen computer and tablet demographics Social media (September 2012 data):

81% of online teens use some kind of social media.

77% of online teens use Facebook.

24% of online teens use Twitter, a figure that is up from 16% in 2011.

Here is where teen social media users maintain other profiles:

Figure 5 teens and social media

Social media & online privacy (September 2012 data):

Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they have in the past, but they are also taking a variety of technical and non-technical steps to manage the privacy of that information.

  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.
  • 71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
  • 92% post their real name to the profile they use most often.
  • 84% post their interests, such as movies, music, or books they like.
  • 82% post their birth date.
  • 62% post their relationship status.
  • 24% post videos of themselves.

60% of teen Facebook users set their Facebook profiles to private (friends only), and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings. Girls are more likely than boys to restrict access to their profiles.

74% of teen social media users have deleted people from their network or friends’ list; 58% have blocked people on social media sites.

One in four (26%) teen social media users say that they post fake information like a fake name, age or location to help protect their privacy.

Teens take steps to shape their reputation, manage their networks, and mask information they don’t want others to know.

For more on teens, social media, and privacy, please refer to this report.

Mobile apps privacy (September 2012 data):

  • 58% of all teens have downloaded apps to their cell phone or tablet computer.
  • 51% of teen apps users have avoided certain apps due to privacy concerns.
  • 26% of teen apps users have uninstalled an app because they learned it was collecting personal information that they didn’t wish to share.
  • 46% of teen apps users have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app because they were worried about the privacy of their information.

Boys who are mobile device owners are significantly more likely than girls to say that they have downloaded an app to their cell phone or tablet computer (79% vs. 62%).

Younger teen apps users ages 12-13 are more likely than older teen apps users 14-17 to say that they have avoided apps over concerns about personal information sharing (56% vs. 49%).

Girls are far more likely than boys to say that they have turned off location tracking features on their cell phone or in an app.

For more on teens and mobiles apps privacy, please refer to this report.

Communication choices (July 2011, except where noted):

Texting dominates teens’ general communication choices. Overall, 75% of all teens text, and 63% say that they use text to communicate with others every day.

  • 39% of teens make and receive voice calls on their mobile phones every day.
  • 35% of all teens socialize with others in person outside of school on a daily basis.
  • 29% of all teens exchange messages daily through social network sites.
  • 22% of teens use instant messaging daily to talk to others.
  • 19% of teens talk on landlines with people in their lives daily.
  • 6% of teens exchange email daily.

The volume of texting among teens has risen from a median 50 texts a day in 2009 to 60 texts for the typical teen text user.

Older girls remain the most enthusiastic texters, with a median of 100 texts a day in 2011, compared with 50 for boys the same age.

Click here for more on what teens do with their phones.

Want more Pew Internet info on teens? Check out these greatest hits, from our archives:

Social Media and Young Adults

Teens and Mobile Phones Over the Past Five Years: Pew Internet Looks Back

Teens, Video Games and Civics

Writing, Technology and Teens