Social Media, Mobile Phones and Sexting (older archives available here)

  • Among 13-17 year olds in the United States, a 2018 study (Social Media, Social Life) conducted by Common Sense Media in 2018 found:

    Teens overwhelmingly choose Snapchat (41 %)  as their main social media site, followed by Instagram (22%) and Facebook (15%)

    • Social media use has increased dramatically by teens. 89% have a smart phone (compared to 41% in 2012), and 70% of teens are on social media multiple times a day (compared to 34% in 2012).
    • 54% of teens report that if parents knew what actually happened on social media, they’d be a lot more worried about it.
    • 1 in 5 teens report says they check notifications while driving at least sometimes. 44% say they “never” do. (Distracted driving)
  • Teens with low social-emotional well-being experience more of the negative effects of social media than kids with high social-emotional well-being.  "Social Media, Social Life 2018" by Common Sense Media"
  • At least one in four teens are receiving sexually explicit texts and emails, and at least one in seven are sending sexts. More than one in 10 teens are forwarding these sexts without consent, the study found. And roughly one in 12 teens have had sexts they sent shared without their permission. (Reuters Health, Feburay 2018)
  • Since 2013, the amount of time young kids spend on mobile devices has tripled from 15 minutes a day in 2013 to 48 minutes a day in 2017. (The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Kids Age Zero to Eight 2017)
  • According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone. This is up from 35 percent in a similar 2011 survey.
  • Children are accessing pornography via mobile devices.  PornHub said its users watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography in 2016, 61% via smartphone and 11% via tablet.  
  • Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social sites for Gen Z and Millennials, garnering 71 percent and 66 percent of mentions respectively. Facebook is at 54 percent while Twitter sits at 42 percent, though these are still trending with the youth, they have drifted since according to PEW Research, Facebook is a favorite for adults (parents included) at 74 percent. (, June 2017).
  • There is a lack of clarity regarding the law around sexting: half of parents are unaware that it is illegal for a child to take a naked or sexual image of themselves and 28% do not know that it is illegal for a child to send a naked or sexual image to a peer. (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, August 2016)
  • According to the Library of Congress, in the UK:.
    • 43 percent of nine- to 12-year-olds have a social media profile
    • One in three are on Facebook despite the 13-year-old age limit. 
    • A quarter of those kids on Facebook never touch the privacy restrictions on their profile, and a fifth of them publicly display their address and/or phone number.
    • In regard to Victim ID Theft, Carnegie Mellon CyLabs says children are over 50 times as likely to have their social security number used by another person.
    • One in 40 families has a child who is a victim of identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research Group, and that figure is on the rise 
      (Comparitech. "Protecting Children’s Privacy – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators." April 20, 2016).  
  • Three out of four children have access to a smartphone in the US ("Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015." Pew Research Center. April 9, 2015). 
  • 1 in 5 Mobile searches are for Porn. (Covenant Eyes, Porn Stats Annual Report 2015). 
  • Mobile porn is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2015.
  • 37% of 3 and 4 year olds use their parent’s tablets and smartphones as do 87% of 5 to 7 year olds. ( - accessed June 6, 2014).
  • A third of 11 to 14 year olds have watched porn on a mobile device. Jonathan Blake, “Mobile porn access ‘damaging’ children and teenagers,” BBC Newsbeat, 2/11/14, at
  • About half of 15 to 17 year olds have accessed pornography on a smartphone or tablet. Jonathan Blake, “Mobile porn access ‘damaging’ children and teenagers,” BBC Newsbeat, 2/11/14, at
  • Sexting behaviors are significantly associated with consuming pornography. Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at
  • More than half (54%) of young adults ages 18-22 admit to sexting as minors.
    • 28% acknowledged sending photographic sexts.
    • Girls send photographic sexts twice as often as boys.
      Van Ouytsel J; Ponnet K; Walrave M. “The associations between adolescents’ consumption of pornography and music videos and their sexting behavior,” Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 722-8, at
  • Music video consumption is significantly associated with asking someone for a sexting message, especially for boys. Ouytsel, J., Ponnet, K. & Walrave, M. (2014) “The Associations Between Adolescents’ Consumption of Pornography and Music Videos and Their Sexting Behavior.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Vol 17 (12).
  • Dr Mariek Vanden Abeele highlights that peer pressure and popularity are key factors in why teens sext, despite knowing the potential risks. "Sex and the Media" issue of Routledge's Media Psychology, authors Mariek Vanden Abeele, Ph.D., Scott W Campbell, PhD., Steven Eggermont, PhD., and Keith Roe, PhD 2014 

  • Sexting is now the 6th top ranked issue in the list of health concerns for U.S. children. C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (2015) Sexting and internet safety climb top 10 list of health concerns for children across the U.S. National Poll on Children’s Health. University of Michigan [Online] [Accessed 29th December 2015]

Social Media is now the number one activity on the web

  • 93 % of teen Facebook users share their real name (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 92% of teen Facebook users share pictures of themselves (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 21% of teen Facebook users share their personal cell phone number (PEW Research Center, 2013)
  • 25% of teen Facebook users share videos of themselves (PEW Reseach Center, 2013) 
  • 95% of teens use the internet (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013)
  • One-third of youth ages 11 to 17 have their own cell phones today; it is expected that half will have them within the next two years (English, Bella. "The Secret Life of Boys: Pornography is a Mouse Click Away, and Kids Are Being Exposed To It In Ever-Increasing Numbers."
  • By 2017, 250m people are expected to be accessing mobile adult content from their phones or tablets, an increase of more than 30% from 2013. Juniper Research, “250 Million to Access Adult Content on their Mobile or Tablet by 2017, Juniper Report Finds.” Sept. 2013. (accessed Dec. 29, 2015)
  •  88% of the self-generated, sexually explicit online images and videos of young people their analysts encountered had been taken from their original location and uploaded onto other websites. (Internet Watch Foundation, 2012). 
  • According to a 2013 ChildLine poll of 500 children in the UK, ages 13 to 18:
    • 60% said they have been asked for explicit photos or videos of themselves.
    • 38% said they had created a sext. Of these, 32% said they had sent it to someone they knew online only (not in real life).
    • Of those who sent a sext, 20% said it had been shared with others, and 28% said they did not know if it was shared. Daniel Martin, “60% of teens face ‘sexting’ pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as ‘pretty normal’ by youngsters,” Oct. 16, 2013. article-2463751/Sexting-More-half-teens-asked-explicit-self-portraits.html (accessed Dec. 29, 2015)
  • 3 in 10 teens text more than 100 times a day (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2012)