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The kids are not all right and are being subject to a firehouse of pinging in the thick of the Information Age. A new report reveals that children are getting upwards of 4,500 notifications a day and have some predictable favorite (and least favorite) apps.
The report comes from Common Sense Media and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. The hospital calls the smartphone a “constant companion” that teens use for an average of four and a half hours a day, according to the researchers tracking the cell phone data of 11 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. for one week. Only Android devices were used in this experiment. These subjects also picked up their phones an average of 51 times a day, with data points spanning anywhere from 2 to 498 pick-ups per day. The study also revealed that kids were receiving upwards of 4,500 notifications to their devices daily, with an average of 237 pings in a 24-hour period. A majority of those notifications appear to be coming from Snapchat and Discord amongst other social media platforms.
“Because notifications are so numerous and occur day and night, they require management by young users,” the study reads. “Snapchat and Discord ranked highest in the number of notifications sent to participants in a typical day, with some participants receiving hundreds of messages from these platforms.”
Social media platforms across the board are pulling teenagers in for engagement, with TikTok being the most popular within the study’s population. 50% of the teenagers involved used TikTok in some capacity during the week of data collection for an average of one hour and 52 minutes. Teenagers involved in the study told the research team that TikTok was an easy source of entertainment with an incredibly robust algorithm when compared to other video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
“I also think the TikTok algorithm is just way better than any of the others. Even Instagram reels and then YouTube Shorts is like the same thing as TikTok, but the algorithm for TikTok is just way more addicting, I feel like [it]… draws you in more, and it also adapts really quickly,” said an 11th grader interviewed for the study.
Facebook, meanwhile, is tanking in popularity amongst the Zoomers and Gen Alpha. While we’ve grown to understand that Facebook is a Boomer’s paradise, the study found that less than 20% of the study’s participants used the platform in any capacity during the week. These findings supplement a survey from 2021, in which only 2% of the 10,000 U.S. teenagers polled said Facebook was their favorite app. Similarly, data published last year by the Pew Research Center found that Facebook was used by less than a third of teenagers in the U.S.