TIME Smartphones

This Is What Teens Are Really Doing on Their Phones

New report reveals all

It’s amazing how glued snake people—er, millennials—are to their palm-sized, Internet-connected rectangles. But why?

Mary Meeker, the Morgan Stanley analyst turned venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, today released her annual report on Internet trends. One section—slides 68 through 70, in particular—digs into the mobile habits of American youth, and it reveals some interesting statistics.

Fortune senior writer Leena Rao has a breakdown of the year’s biggest overall trends here. But for the millennial scrutinizer, here’s what the 2015 slideshow has to say:

First off, 87% of young adults—or those between the ages of 18 and 34—who own smartphones report never separating from their mobile devices: “My smartphone never leaves my side, night or day.” And four-out-of-five of them report that the first thing they do upon waking “is reach for my smartphone.” Good morning, screen-glow.

Nearly as many, 78%, spend more than two hours per day using their smartphones. And three-out-of-five believe that mobile devices will somehow vaguely rule every aspect of the future: “In the next five years, I believe everything will be done on mobile devices.”

So what do teens care about now on their phones? For those who average roughly 16 years, about one third report prioritizing Instagram as the most important social network. That’s about the same as the share that reported Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] was the most important in Spring 2013. Today, Facebook’s share of perceived importance has halved among that demographic.

While Zuck’s friend-zone still has the most penetration of any social network—about three-quarters of 12- to 24-year-olds use it—that share is in decline. It dropped from to 74% this year from 80% last year.

Other networks that lost some share include Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Vine stayed steady at 30% in terms of usage among socially networked 12- to 24-year-olds. And those networks on the rise? Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. (WhatsApp lacks 2014 data, but clocked in at 11% this year.)

Instagram appears to be the king, for now. (Never mind that it’s a Facebook fiefdom.) Which explains why so many—44% of 18- to 24-year-olds, that is—report report using their smartphone camera at least once per day. And an overwhelming majority—about three-quarters of 18- to 34-year-olds—report that they use their cameras to post pictures to social media.

So that’s how teens are mostly using their phones. To take pictures of the world around them, and to inject those photos into and across the screens that consume their mornings, their days, their nights, and a good portion of their present lives. Not to mention the entirety their future lives, as many of them report anticipating.

Unfortunately, the report does not break its numbers out into share of selfies.

MONEY Autos

Skidding Kids Learn Safe Driving at BMW’s School for Teens

A two-day course at BMW's U.S. headquarters teaches both safety and fun. A free, trimmed down version is coming to a city near you.

BMW, which bills its brand as “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” is trying to improve the skills of teenagers who may be driving its cars.

The German manufacturer is taking its teen driving school on the road this year, offering a free, two-hour classes in Miami, Washington, DC, Seattle, and other major cities. Go to ude.bmwusa.com for reservations and details about the classes — which are offered alongside free and paid BMW-centric programs for adults.

The traveling class is an abbreviated version of a two-day driving school that BMW offers at its U.S. headquarters in Spartanburg, S.C., and near Palm Springs, Calif. To get a first-hand look at the two-day class, I accepted an invitation to attend the Teen Driving Program in Spartanburg. I brought along the most recently licensed teen I know, my stepson-to-be, Gavin.

The $1,295 course started off with a classroom session led by chief instructor Derek Leonard. After a quick meet-and-greet, Leonard stated his goals: Safety, fun, excitement, and education — and likely not in that order.

He then jumped right into specifics, such as the importance of keeping your eyes up and looking where you want to go — not at what you want to avoid! Make sure your seating position is upright and closer to the steering wheel than you think you should be. Hands should always be at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. And adjust your side mirrors. Eighty percent of drivers mis-adjust their side mirrors and cause overlapping fields of vision, said Leonard.

By mid-morning, Gavin and the other 13 teens were put into teams and led outside to a flock of awaiting M235i’s. As one group learned the quick way about oversteering and understeering on a wet skid pad, the other group practiced lane changes and ABS braking at increasing speeds. By afternoon, the students were competing for points on a challenge course.

Day Two turned the heat up even more with double lane-change exercises, high-speed braking, more skid pad laps, and, finally, what BMW calls a “performance drive.” Teens took turns doing laps on a small road course in several different BMWs, including a Z4 convertible (very popular), a 5 Series sedan, and an X3. By then, there was a clear air of confidence about all the students.

In the end, 14 new drivers had improved road and car control skills — and presumably a greater attachment to BMWs.

Luckily, BMW runs concurrent adult driving schools, so I didn’t just have to observe. Why should the teens have all the fun?

TIME celebrities

Justin Bieber Crashed a High School Prom This Weekend

You better Belieb it

Justin Bieber crashed a Southern California high school’s prom on Saturday night.

According to Hollywood Life, Bieber was on the way to a recording studio that was at the same location as Chatsworth Charter High School’s prom. In an apparently impulsive decision, the pop star decided to show his face — and chaos ensued.

One girl was even lucky enough to get a (extremely short) dance with music idol.

Let’s hope the DJ was wise enough to play “Baby” immediately afterward.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Teens Aren’t Using the Most Effective Birth Control

IUD birthcontrol
Photo Illustration by Mia Tramz for TIME; Corbis

A new CDC report reveals few teens use IUDs and implants

American teenagers are getting better at practicing safe sex, but a new federal report reveals very few teens are using the most effective forms of birth control.

In the new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 2005–2013 data from the Title X National Family Planning Program on teen contraceptive use and found that teen use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)—such as the intrauterine device (IUD) and the implant—are up but still very low. The numbers show that U.S. teen LARC use increased from under 1% in 2005 to 7% in 2013. Implants were used more than IUDs by women of all ages. The state with the highest use of LARC among its teens in 2013 was Colorado at 26%. All other states ranged from use of less than 1% to 20%.

Currently, teens are opting for methods like condoms and birth control pills, which while still good options, are less effective and more prone to incorrect or inconsistent use.

MORE: Why The Most Effective Form of Birth Control is the One No One Uses

The benefit of contraceptives like the IUD and implant are that they are low maintenance and highly effective. For example, the typical use failure rate of the IUD is 0.2% and for the implant it’s 0.05%. By comparison, the birth control pill and vaginal ring have a failure rate of 9% and condoms have a fail rate of 18%.

In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), considered an authority on reproductive health, concluded that IUDs and implants are safe and appropriate for adolescents and teens. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agreed and said it recommends LARC for adolescents.

“Long-acting reversible contraception is safe for teens, easy to use, and very effective,” said CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias in a statement. “We need to remove barriers and increase awareness, access, and availability of long-acting reversible contraception such as IUDs and implants.”

CDC

According to the new CDC report, there are a variety of reasons why a young person may not opt for the IUD or implant. Many teens don’t know very much about them and they often think they are too young to use them. As TIME reported in June, some physicians may remember the IUDs of past, which caused severe problems for women and were discontinued. Modern-day IUDs are safe and appropriate but there are still misperceptions about the device that persist within the medical community. Many providers are also not properly trained on insertion or removal of the IUD and implant. However, a recent report showed that among female health care providers 42% use LARC, which is much higher than both the general population of teens and adult women.

Overall, the CDC report shows that American teens are waiting to have sex, and when they are sexually active, nearly 90% report using birth control. The teen pregnancy rate in the United States appears to be steadily dropping, though in 2013 over 273,000 babies were born to girls between ages 15 and 19. The CDC says encouraging young women to consider LARC is an important strategy for further reducing teen pregnancy.

TIME Crime

14 Los Angeles High Schoolers Suspected of Sex Crimes

Police officers walk in front of Venice High School where they are investigating allegations of sexual assault in Los Angeles
Jonathan Alcorn—Reuters Police officers walk in front of Venice High School, where they are investigating allegations of sexual assaults centered on students, in Los Angeles, March 13, 2015.

About 10 have been arrested

Los Angeles police made several arrests at an area high school Friday as part of an investigation into 14 high school boys accused of sex crimes.

The crimes–involving two underage victims—allegedly began over a year ago, police say many of the incidents occurred in the last two months, with several of the accused boys present. The police have also discovered photos of the sex acts, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Authorities were made aware of the incidents on Tuesday. The boys were not identified since they are minors between the ages of 14 and 17. The police arrested nine of the boys from Venice High School on Friday morning and a 10th turned himself in. There are still four more wanted in connection to the crimes.

The crimes are sexual assault and lewd acts with a minor, the Times reports. They involve a group of high school boys allegedly working together to pressure girls into having sex with them through a variety of threats.

The events allegedly occurred both on and off campus.

TIME medicine

One Hour of Sleep Makes a Difference In What You’ll Eat

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Lynn Koenig—Getty Images/Flickr RF

When it comes to teens and sleep, it’s not how much sleep, but how consistently they sleep the same amount that’s important for their health

Plenty of studies have documented that teens don’t get enough sleep. They’re supposed to be in bed for eight to nine hours a night, but most get seven or less. Now the latest sleep research, presented at the American Heart Association EPI/Lifestyle 2015 meeting, shows when it comes to weight gain—which has been tied to sleep deprivation and disturbances—it’s not necessarily the amount of sleep that tips the scales but rather the consistency of that nightly rest.

Fan He, an epidemiologist at Penn State University College of Medicine, and his colleagues found a strong correlation between the variation in sleep patterns among a group of teens and the amount of calories they consumed. And for every hour difference in sleep on a night-to-night basis over a week, for example, they ate 210 more calories—most of it in fat and carbohydrates. Those with uneven sleep patterns were also more likely to snack.

Previous studies have linked poor or disrupted sleep to obesity; people not getting enough shut-eye, for example, may experience changes in the hormones that regulate appetite and how well they break down glucose in their diet. Levels of the hormone leptin, for instance, drop in those who are sleep deprived, and less leptin prompts the body to feel hungry.

MORE: The Power of Sleep

In the current study, however, all the teens got an average of seven hours a night, so it wasn’t as if some of the teens were sleeping for extremely long or short periods of time. Any metabolic changes they would have experienced due to their sleeping less than the recommended eight to nine hours would have been similar among the consistent and inconsistent sleepers.

Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center, stresses that good quality sleep involves three things — getting enough sleep, making sure the timing of the sleep if appropriate, and avoiding sleep disorders. While the amount of sleep has gotten the lion’s share of attention in recent years, a new phenomenon called social jet lag, which the current study investigates, may deserve equal consideration. “We live in a society of yo-yo sleep in which people sleep less because of social or work demands, then try to catch up,” says Watson. “There haven’t been a lot of studies that looked at what kind of impact this has on our health, but teenagers may be particularly susceptible to social jet lag than older adults, and this study assessed that.”

MORE: This Is What’s Keeping Teens From Getting Enough Sleep

These results show that it was the variability in their sleep that was most strongly linked to their eating habits.

Why? The researchers guess that teens who aren’t sleeping consistently are more likely to get too little sleep on one night, for example, and therefore be more tired or sedentary the following day, which leads them to sit around and eat more. It may also be possible that teens with irregular sleep habits are more likely to stay up later on weekends; He found that these adolescents had a 100% higher chance of snacking on weekends compared to those who slept more regularly.

MORE: School Should Start Later So Teens Can Sleep, Urge Doctors

That suggests that health experts should focus not just on the amount of sleep teens are getting, but on their sleep patterns. “Instead of focusing on how much we sleep, we also need to pay attention to maintaining a regular sleep pattern,” says He. Such consistency, however, may not be so easy for teens to master.

 

MONEY Shopping

Are Malls Losing Their Cool, or Still Standing Strong? An Exchange

150304_EM_MALL
Brennan Linsley—AP

Mike Kercheval, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers:

I write in response to Kerri Anne Renzulli’s January article, “Why Teens Hate Shopping at ‘Teen’ Clothing Stores,” and in particular to her contention that “Malls Are No Longer a Hangout.” In arguing this point, MONEY joins a steady stream of voices to incorrectly write-off the shopping center industry.

Renzulli accurately points out that e-commerce sales are increasing at about four times the growth rate of physical retail establishments. But a closer look at the stats shows that actual e-commerce sales still amount to just 6% of total retail sales (with the balance happening at brick-and-mortar locations) and that consumers make 78% of their purchases at shopping centers.

It is true that some major teen-oriented retailers have announced store closings recently, but teenagers remain a driving force in the retail industry—and, yes, they still visit the mall. Teens are simply shifting where their spending dollars go to. In fact, their demand for new brands and styles has generated a need for more retail space from fast-fashion brands such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21, each of which have recently announced big expansion plans—mostly in shopping malls. And when teens have been asked—as they were in this recent survey by Teen Vogue—they point convincingly to an omni-channel approach, one which still puts brick-and-mortar (or the mall) retail at the core of their purchasing habits.

Like shoppers of all ages, teens will use mobile and online to complement their shopping experience, but they still prefer to walk into a store and feel the merchandise before they buy that next pair of designer jeans. They also go to malls to enjoy the social experience. During the past holiday shopping season, Jason Wagenheim, vice president and publisher of Teen Vogue, said, “the mall remains the most important part of the overall omnichannel shopping story” for the millennial shopper, especially 16 to 26 year-olds. He pointed out that even though millennials are shopping more online and through mobile, “the brick-and-mortar experience still greatly matters.”

The bottom line is that consumers today want to choose where and when they can shop, and they are using online technologies to enhance their shopping experience, but malls and shopping centers will continue to be the number one distribution channel of goods, services, and entertainment.Retail tastes change over time, and brands will come and go, but people of every generation clearly want to shop in stores.

Kerri Anne Renzuli responds:

My article was focused not on the state of shopping centers or malls but rather on the growing disinterest of teens in teen-targeted retail brands, a point that was underscored by the ongoing management shake-up at—and disappointing earnings released today by—Abercrombie & Fitch.

That said, I stand by my contention that teens are less likely than in past decades to use the mall as a nexus of social gatherings. The numbers seem to paint a pretty clear picture: Teens are spending less of their leisure time at malls and ascribe decreasing cultural importance to them. In 2014, according to Piper Jaffray, teens visited the mall an average of 29 times a year—still a lot, as you point out, but down from 38 times in 2007.

As I note in my article, so-called “fast fashion” brands like H&M and Zara that are aimed at a broader demographic have indeed absorbed some of the teen traffic lost by Abercrombie and the like. But teens tend to see these retailers as primary destinations, much like large department stores. By contrast, many of the struggling teen brands like Wet Seal and Aeropostale have historically benefited from incidental foot traffic from teens wandering the mall with friends—which they are doing less of now. The number of stores visited per mall trip has dropped from five to three since 2007.

While teens still gather at the mall, other types of retail establishments, particularly “fast casual” eateries like Chipotle and Starbucks, are growing in popularity. And with teens choosing to spend more of their time and income in restaurants, it’s become even harder for teen brands to attract the attention and wallets of their core audience.

 

TIME Addiction

It’s Really Easy for Teens to Buy E-Cigs Online

TIME.com stock photos E-Cig Electronic Cigarette Smoke
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Most popular e-cigarette sites fail to verify the age of their clients, finds a new study

Young people under age 18 can buy e-cigarettes online, even in states where it’s illegal, a new study shows.

North Carolina researchers asked 11 teens between ages 14 to 17 who didn’t smoke to try to buy e-cigarettes online from 98 of the most popular Internet vendors. The sale of e-cigarettes to minors in North Carolina is illegal—but of the 98 orders, only five were rejected based on a failed age verification. Eighteen orders failed for problems unrelated to age, like website issues. Overall, the minors made 75 successful orders.

The teens were also asked to answer the door when deliveries were made. None of the companies attempted to confirm age at delivery, and 95% of the time, the orders were just left at the teens’ doors.

The findings are concerning for any state trying to regulate youth access, the authors say. Currently, there’s no federal law forbidding the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, despite the fact that they contain nicotine, which is addictive. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that e-cigarettes fall under their regular tobacco regulation jurisdiction, but the proposal is still not a codified law. “It may be several years before federal regulations are implemented,” the study authors write.

Some states have stepped in and banned the sale to minors within their borders. So far 41 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands forbid such transactions, or have pending legislation to do so.

But as the new study suggests, young people can easily get e-cigarettes online if they want them. “Without strictly enforced federal regulations, online e-cigarette vendors have little motivation to decrease profits by spending the time and money it takes to properly verify customers’ age and reject underage buyers,” says study author Rebecca S. Williams, public health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

None of the vendors complied with North Carolina’s e-cigarette age-verification law. The majority of U.S. carriers, including USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL, ban the delivery of cigarettes, only allowing the delivery of tobacco products from a licensed dealer or distributor to another licensed dealer or distributor. If these rules were extended to e-cigarettes, the study authors argue it would essentially shut down a major loophole in access.

Getting proposed rules like the FDA’s passed takes time, but when it comes to the safety of children, the researchers argue there needs to be more urgency. Prior data has shown that from 2011 to 2013, the number of young Americans who used e-cigarettes but not conventional cigarettes more than tripled, from 79,000 to over 263,000. The study authors conclude that the ease with which teens can get e-cigarettes online—in a state that forbids the practice—stresses the need for more regulation, and fast.

TIME Sex/Relationships

Teen Dating Violence Harms Both Genders, Government Report Shows

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Getty Images

New data on teen dating violence reveals problems among both sexes

Findings from a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study reveal that nearly 21% of female teens who date have experienced some form of violence at the hands of their partner in the last year—and almost half of male students report the same.

The survey asked about 9,900 high school students whether they had experienced some type of violence from someone they dated. The results, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, showed that about 7% of teen girls reported experiencing physical violence, 8% said they experienced sexual violence and 6% experienced both. Almost 21% said they were the victim of some type of dating-related violence. For boys, about 4% reported experiencing physical violence, 3% experienced sexual violence and 10% experienced any type. Though girls were more likely to experience violence, the numbers show dating assaults affect young boys as well.

The new CDC survey adds to its prior research into the prevalence of dating violence, but the latest version asked updated questions that include sexual violence and more accurately portray violent behaviors, the study authors say.

Most of the teens surveyed reported experiencing such violence more than one time. The findings also showed that those who experienced some form of dating violence also had a higher prevalence of other health risks like drinking alcohol, using drugs or thinking about suicide.

Future research should look at the frequency of violence in teen dating relationships and how that may harm teens’ health, the researchers conclude.

TIME Parenting

8 Ways to Help Cure Your Teen’s Screen Addiction

Teenagers using cellphones
Getty Images/Image Source

Tips from a former advertising insider

Parents welcome technology devices in the home as helpful tools. (Who doesn’t want a homework assistant, a boredom killer, or a virtual chaperone a pre-installed geo-tracker for their teen?) But without parameters, technology is like the obnoxious houseguest who overstays his welcome, while consuming all the snacks in the fridge. Current research reported by the National PTA suggests that the typical American kid devours more than six hours of screen time each day. But parents don’t need studies to know that.

So how do teens reform their technology habits? Author and voice actor Bill Ratner is probably the last person any parent would consult as an expert on the topic. The man made a career out of lending his voice to some of the most aggressive advertising powerhouses around. But Ratner is also a dad. And his lifetime of work in the industry make his perspective a useful one. Consider these eight guidelines based on Ratner’s recent book, Parenting for the Digital Age

  1. Give teens a voice. When they’re part of the decision making process of how and when their household uses technology, teens are more likely to take ownership of the plan. And since teens know technology so well, chances are they’ll help families make better decisions:

“They are familiar with kids who are game-addicts, textaholics, and Facebook freaks. Use the wisdom of your kids to help knit together a strategy to deal with media screens in your home,” says Ratner.

  1. Teach teens to pick up on marketing ploys. Teens who are wise to the ways marketing, advertising, and the media work, are also more keen to tricks of the industry.

“Remember that [teens] have been lured to their screens by masters of their craft, highly paid communication experts whose sole responsibility is to secure kids’ eyeballs and keep them watching day and night,” writes Ratner.

Ask your kids questions about the advertisements they see, questions like: What’s being sold? How is the selling done? Who does the advertiser want to entice? That type of conversation encourages critical thinking in place of passive viewing.
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  1. Resist the cool stuff = cool person image. Teens sometimes connect technology devices with social status. Make it clear that a person’s value isn’t related to the things they own.

Ratner says, “The challenge for parents is to find ways to affirm children’s self-esteem and their membership in their group of peers while making sure that they know the difference between self-worth and simply owning a smart phone or t-shirt. “

  1. Remember that technology use is not an all or nothing matter. Every rule is malleable. Don’t be afraid to adjust a rule that doesn’t quite fit. Each family needs to find the formula that works for them.

“You can negotiate cellphone-free hours at home, web-free spaces in the house, TV-free portions of the week,” says Ratner.

  1. Find allies in other parents. Connect with families from the neighborhood, school, and local place of worship and find out what other parents do to manage technology use in the home.

“. . . Each family must determine the principles and practices that will work for them . . . But there is so much we can learn from the opinions of others,” suggests Ratner.

  1. Don’t just limit media use. Find activities to replace it. And be creative about it. Ratner, and his family enjoy homegrown cabarets as entertainment at their family gatherings and also go to professional storytelling events:

“Confronting the obstacles for families in our digital age can either be a battle or a creative challenge. I find that with a little improvisation, creativity, and the desire to try new things like storytelling, we can lighten our load and inject fun into our lives in simple ways,” prescribes Ratner.

  1. Be O.K. with the backlash that comes with setting parental limits. This is one of those simple and timeless parenting principles. Find which rules work and stick to them. Don’t cave to slammed doors and sucked teeth:

“Psychologists say that when our children shout their demands and complaints at us, they are rehearsing to get their way in the world. Parents are the easiest and safest targets for them to practice on. Will we cover our ears, or will we take the opportunity to teach, guide, and protect?” questions Ratner.

  1. Find ways to make technology habits productive. A technology obsessed teen might be finding a passion. Channel that and put it to work. Enroll that kid in a programming, animation, or app design class.

As a mother and professor whom Ratner interviewed said, “For our family, it wasn’t about restricting access to a computer; it was about educating our kids about what a computer is for, what it’s capable of. In order to survive in the workplace, our kids were going to have to be computer literate. Why not teach them early?”

For additional ideas on managing teen technology habits, visit these online resources:

Common Sense Media — CommonSenseMedia.org
National Institute on Media and the Family —
http://www.ParentFurther.com
Media! Tech! Parenting! —
http://www.MediaTechParenting.net

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