Texting and social media “may not be enough”

Posted on: 04/27/20 3:22 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week Common Sense Media released the results of their most recent teen survey…during this Coronavirus epidemic… asking teens not only about screen-time, but their feelings and fears through all this.

The two numbers that jumped out at me the most were these:

  • 48% say they feel less connected than usual with their friends right now.

Common sense suggests that even though 65% percent of teens report talking to friends or family via texting or social media more often than they usually do, “texting and social media with friends may not be enough.”

Read that one more time:

Texting and social media with friends may not be enough.

This was no surprise to me, especially after just finishing my newest book, The Teen’s Guide to Face-to-Face Connections in a Screen-to-Screen World, the book my daughter Alyssa and I just wrote to teens (coming out this fall). The summary of all the research we’ve done on this subject was simple: screens are helpful and fun, but they don’t fulfill us like face-to-face relationships. In fact, the phrase we kept finding ourselves saying in that book was, “Screens are great tools for connecting with people outside the room, when they don’t interfere with the people inside the room.”

So it’s interesting to see young people longing for face-to-face connections even more through this epidemic. Screens don’t cross that divide. They might be fun… but they’re not enough. People are craving face-to-face.

Which brings up the second number that jumped out at me from this new survey:

  • Forty percent of teens say they feel more connected than usual with their families.

That’s just good news all around. It’s the silver lining to this dark cloud of Covid-19. Families are actually connecting.

I know we are. Both my 20-something daughters are home right now because of Covid-19. We’ve put together more puzzles (and made more desserts… aye, aye, aye…) than in the last 10 years!

Sequestering has its perks when you’re stuck with people you love.

This survey also brought up a few other interesting tidbits:

  • About four in 10 teens (42%) feel “more lonely than usual” right now
  • 63% are worried about the effect it will have on their family’s ability to make a living or earn money

What about you? What have you noticed during these strange times?