What’s it like to be a teenager today in Latin America?

Our recent project My Teen Life spanned more than 5,100 teens aged 12 to 17 across 30 countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. Here are key findings from an average of the 3 countries’ data:

They worry a lot about how they look. Compared with their global peers, teens in Latin America are more likely to worry about their appearance (75% Latin America, 60% global). In Latin America, nearly equal percentages of girls and boys express concern about what they look like – but globally, boys (56%) worry much less than girls (65%).

Though social exclusion is a concern, bullying is less common than elsewhere. Teens in Latin America worry more about being left out by their peers than teens globally (65% Latin America, 59% global). Bullying, when it happens, is more likely to happen “IRL” than online – and teens in Latin America are less likely to have experienced it than teens globally. Just over a third of Latin America teens told us they have been bullied “IRL” (36% Latin America, 42% global), while 16% have been bullied online (19% global).

They’re enthusiastic social media users. In Latin America, 83% of teens use technology and social media to stay up-to-date constantly, compared with 75% among global teens. They check social media an average of 67 times per day – much higher than the global average of 49 checks daily. Six in 10 report feeling pressure to respond to a message within 30 minutes. They’re also more likely to share something funny as soon as they come across it (77% Latin America, 73% global).

Yet their frequent digital communication doesn’t translate to fewer friends in real life. Teens in Latin America count an average of 4.7 best friends – up from 4.0 in 2012. They also have more best friends on average than global teens (4.3).

They believe in the power of the internet and distrust public authorities. Three-quarters of teens in Latin America (74%) believe the internet is more powerful than any government – higher than the global average of 64%. They have little faith in those who hold public positions of power. Only 6% trust religious leaders, 5% trust the police, and 1% trust their own government.

Their parents want close and honest relationships with them. Virtually all parents of teens in Latin America (95%) want their teens to be able to tell them anything. The same percentage (95%) feel it’s important to respect their teens’ opinions.

They’re entrepreneurial and not afraid of making mistakes. More than three-quarters of teens in Latin America (77%) describe themselves as entrepreneurial – considerably above the global average of 67%. And while they worry more about not living up to their potential (77% Latin America, 61% global), they are also more likely to believe it’s better to try something and make a mistake than never to try at all (93% Latin America, 90% global).

They strongly believe in standing up for what’s right. Almost all teens in Latin America (97%) think that people should have the right to stand up for their beliefs (91% global).