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Teens’ social media preferences have changed drastically in the past few years, and platform choices are shifting as teens increase their use of social. A new report from Common Sense Media [download page] offers some intriguing data about how teens use social media, and how that has changed since 2012. Here are 3 takeaways from the report.

1. The Number of Teens Using Social More Than Once A Day Has Doubled

Fully 7 in 10 teens ages 13-17 report checking social media more than once a day, according to the survey. That represents a doubling of the proportion (34%) who checked social media with that regularity in a similar survey conducted in 2012.

The study paints a picture of heavy teen usage: almost half (43%) say they check social media either almost constantly (16%) or hourly (27%).

And while the proportion of teens who claim to be “addicted” to social media hasn’t grown too much, it’s still up to about 1 in 4 respondents (24%).

2. Snapchat Favored by Twice As Many as Instagram

Facebook’s fall from grace has been quite dramatic. Back in 2012 two-thirds (68%) called it their main social media site. Fast forward to this year, and just 15% maintain that it’s their most-used site.

Of course, Facebook can hang its hat on its acquisition of Instagram, but even Instagram isn’t keeping pace. About 1 in 5 (22%) teens surveyed say they use Instagram the most.

Instead it’s Snapchat that’s the clear favorite, with almost twice as many (41%) saying they use it the most as Instagram.

These trends have also been observed by Piper Jaffray in its biannual study, which has likewise seen Snapchat rise to prominence with teens, with Instagram second and Facebook fading.

Looking at the use of social media sites by various demographic groups, the survey reveals that:

  • Older teens are more likely than younger teens to be using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter;
  • Females tend to be more apt to use social platforms than males, with the exception of Facebook;
  • There are few differences by race or ethnicity, though African-Americans are less likely than others to use Snapchat, instead being more apt to be Instagram users;
  • Teens from higher-income households are more likely than others to use Snapchat and Instagram, but less likely to use Facebook and Twitter; and
  • Snapchat is the most-used site across all demographic groups, but African-Americans and lower-income households are the only to put Facebook second over Instagram.

3. Only 1 in 3 Say Social Is Very Important to Their Lives

Despite 7 in 10 using social media at least multiple times a day, less than half as many consider social media to be either very important (23%) or extremely important (9%) to their lives.

In fact, more teens claim that social media isn’t important – or don’t use social media at all – than say it’s very or extremely important to their lives.

Furthermore, teens aren’t placing that much importance on likes and followers… or at least so they say. Only 1 in 3 (34%) say that getting new friends/followers is either somewhat important (26%) or extremely/very important (8%) to them.

Likes, to be fair, are a little more important: 45% say they’re either somewhat (32%) or very/extremely important (13%).

More key findings from the report are available here.

About the Data: The results are based on a nationally representative survey of 1,141 13-17-year-olds in the US. The survey was fielded online by GfK from March 22, 2018 – April 10, 2018.

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