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Technology Has Created a Digital Adolescence for Teens

Written By Michael Ferrara

Created on 2022-11-20 22:30

Published on 2022-11-25 12:44

Today’s teenagers are digital natives. Their second adolescence is being lived online, as they habitually filter and share their lives on social media. The internet and mobile devices have become the primary means of interacting with friends, exploring interests, finding jobs, and even getting a date. This new adolescent phase is like its real-world counterpart in that it involves a period of experimentation with different identities and roles. However, unlike previous generations, today’s teens are finding their own voice not only by joining social causes such as the fight against climate change but also through technology itself. This “digital adolescence” is redefining what it means to be young as we know it, creating new challenges for parents and society at large.

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For teens, digital communication is the norm

Today’s teens were born into a digital world, growing up with computers and the internet as essential parts of daily life. Their connection to technology is like that of children growing up in the suburbs who know that cities exist, but have no real idea of what life would be like there. For teens, digital communication has become the norm and face-to-face communication is increasingly seen as the exception. Teens communicate almost as much online as they do in person. A recent survey of U.S. teens found that they are spending an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes per week online, while they spend an average of 10 hours and 25 minutes in person with others (including time spent in school, with friends, and at work). Teens’ online communication isn’t just happening on social media, either. More than half of teens report that they have used online communication, such as email or text messaging, to connect with someone they have never met in person. This communication can be especially helpful for teens who are interested in forming new friendships, but don’t attend school or live in a neighborhood where meeting others is easy.

Living online: the new social playground

Teens are spending less time socializing in person and more time communicating online. And while some of these interactions are taking place on the couch while watching TV or in the classroom while taking advantage of online tools, many are happening via social media and other online platforms. As a result, teenagers’ interactions with friends and peers are increasingly taking place online, on an array of platforms including social media, messaging apps, and virtual reality gaming. Adolescence is a time of finding one’s own identity. For previous generations, this often meant joining a social cause such as the civil rights movement or fighting against apartheid in South Africa. Today’s teens are finding their own voice not only by joining social causes such as the fight against climate change but also through technology itself.

Digital trust and safety

While technology has become a fact of daily life for many teens, concerns about digital trust and safety are growing. Three out of five U.S. teens say that they have been threatened or harassed online. For many teens, the most challenging part of living in an online world is knowing how to stay safe while fully participating in it. Teens are often encouraged to “just say no” to online interactions, but most feel that they need to be online to fully participate in society. Teens are grappling with the fact that the people they meet online often aren’t who they say they are. They are also struggling with how to stay safe and protect their privacy while engaging in online activities. This has led to a debate about whether online socializing is a “bad thing” in general, or just “bad if you don’t do it right.”

The rise of coding clubs for teens

One way that teens are using technology to express their identities is by coding and creating new technologies. This is being driven in part by the rise of coding clubs for teens, which are popping up in communities around the world. For some teens, coding is about making social change. For example, “Coding for Climate Action” is a project that helps teens translate their desire to help address climate change into programming skills. Other teens are coding for more personal reasons. Many are looking for a creative outlet and a way to express themselves. For example, “Coding for Social Good” is a program that allows teens to address issues they care about through coding.


With the rise of digital media and social media, adolescents today are often spending more time online than they are with their parents. This has meant that many kids are growing up with a different view of what it means to be an adult than their parents had. While this change has meant that parents have lost a little bit of control over their children, it has also led to many positives. Today’s teens are not only more digitally savvy, but they are also more civically engaged than previous generations. They are using digital technology as a way to communicate their values, connect with others, and create change both in their local communities and around the world.

#teentech #parenting #adolescence #identity #privacy #techinnovation