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Nearly half of American teens are online ‘almost constantly’

That’s about double what it was three years ago.

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Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

If it seems like young people are always online, it’s because they are — well, at least that’s the case for about half of them.

Some 45 percent of American teens say they are online “almost constantly,” according to a new survey from Pew Research. That number has nearly doubled from the 24 percent who said they were always online in Pew’s 2014-2015 study.

The results varied by gender. Fifty percent of girls said they were always online compared with 39 percent of boys.

Teens’ internet presence has been enabled by near-universal adoption of smartphones, with 95 percent having access to a smartphone, according to the survey.

What are they doing with all that time online? Mostly using Snapchat and YouTube. Thirty-five percent of teens said they use Snapchat most often out of any internet platform, while 32 percent used YouTube most often. At 15 percent, Instagram was the third-most popular online platform among teens. Snapchat has remained popular with younger people, even as more users overall have flocked to Instagram.

The jury is out on whether all that time online is good for them. About 30 percent of teens said that social media has had a mostly positive impact on people their age while 24 percent said the effect has been mostly negative. The biggest group — 45 percent of teens surveyed — said it has had neither a positive nor a negative effect.

For this survey, Pew interviewed 1,058 parents who have a teen aged 13 to 17, as well as 743 teens online and by telephone from March 7 to April 10, 2018.

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