Majority of Teens Say They Feel ‘Peaceful’ Without Their Cell Phone

by State Brief

In an era marked by being more digitally connected than ever before, a surprising finding has emerged: large majority of U.S. teenagers are comfortable without a smart phone.

The Pew Research Center, on March 12, unveiled new insights into the complex relationship between U.S. teenagers and their smartphones, with a survey showing that 72 percent of U.S. teens say they often or sometimes feel peaceful when they don’t have their smartphones.

Contrary to the idea of phones being indispensable, just 44 percent say not having their smartphone around makes them feel anxious, while roughly a third say they feel upset or lonely without their phone (33 percent and 31 percent, respectively).

This data comes amidst growing concerns over the impact of social media consumption on teenage mental health. Other recent data shows negative mental health outcomes are associated with popular video streaming apps YouTube and TikTok, which are commonly used on smartphones.

Across the country, 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone. The latest Pew survey, which sampled 1,453 U.S. teens between 13 to 17 and their parents, finds adolescents generally hold a favorable view of smartphones.

Most teens (70 percent) believe the benefits of smartphone outweigh any harms for people their age, while 30 percent think there are more harms. The survey also shows that teenagers view the devices’ impact on specific aspects of their lives differently.

“Majorities of teens say smartphones make it a little or a lot easier for people their age to pursue hobbies and interests (69 percent) and be creative (65 percent),” Pew explained. “Close to half (45 percent) say these devices have made it easier for youth to do well in school.”

The conversation around smartphones extends into the domain of social relationships, where opinions among teens are split.

About four-in-ten teens believe smartphones make it easier for teens to form healthy friendships, while 31 percent each say they make it harder or neither easier nor harder.

As Pew reported, a larger share (42 percent) say smartphones make learning good social skills harder, compared to 30 percent who believe phones make it easier.

Parents who were surveyed said that in order to combat risks, it is common to look through their kids’ phones.

Half of parents said they looked through their teen’s smartphone, while 43 percent of teens admit to knowing their parents search their phones.

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