Digital lives of Aussie teens

The internet is an integral part of the digital lives of Aussie teens. While their high use of technology offers many benefits, there is a downside – negative online experiences.

This research provides a glimpse into the digital lives of teens, how they deal with negative online experiences, the types of information they need to stay safe online and the information sources that they trust. It also looks at the types of positive online behaviours in which they engage.

The research is based on a survey of 627 teens aged 12 to 17 in September 2020.

Key findings

Online lives

  • Teens spent an average of 14.4 hours a week online.
  • 9 in 10 teens used the internet to research topics of interest, watch videos, chat with friends and listen to music.
  • 8 in 10 teens played games online with others.

Social media

  • Teens used an average of four different social media services – YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat remain the most popular app/platforms.
  • TikTok (formerly – has shown the greatest growth, from 12% of teens in 2017, up to 38% in 2020.

Negative online experiences

  • 44% of teens had a negative online experience in the six months to September 2020.
  • The top three were being contacted by a stranger or someone they didn't know (30%), receiving inappropriate or unwanted content (20%) and being deliberately excluded from events/social groups (16%).
  • More than 80% teens took some form of action after a negative online experience.

Online safety information

  • Three quarters of teens wanted more online safety information delivered through trusted channels including:
    • their school or an online safety class – 43%
    • a trusted eSafety website – 40%
    • from a parent/carer – 38%.

Positive online behaviours

  • 9 in 10 teens had engaged in at least one type of positive online behaviour.

Nearly all teens who had a negative experience online engaged in positive online behaviour afterward.