Compared with 2019, the average time spent per day by children (ages 4-15) in the US on social media apps almost doubled in 2020 across all major platforms. Of the apps studied in a recent report [pdf] from Qustodio, TikTok made standout gains in overtaking popular platforms such as Instagram and YouTube.
TikTok Takes Off
The report, based on online habits data of 60,000 families with children aged 4 to 15 years old, identifies TikTok as the main driver of growth in the overall uptake of time spent on social media. This is seen in data from February as well as from March and April, after the pandemic was declared and stay-at-home measures were put in place across the world.
Though Instagram was the app used by the largest share of kids in the US (20.4%) in February, TikTok followed close behind (16.5%) and had already overtaken more established platforms such as Snapchat (16%), Facebook (13.7%), Pinterest (8.1%), Twitter (3.7%) and Houseparty (3.6%). Moreover, when looking at average minutes per day TikTok made significantly higher gains year-over-year than any other app — time per day spent on TikTok grew from 38 minutes in May 2019 to 82 minutes in February 2020, representing an increase of 116%.
TikTok’s popularity among young people is also reflected in recent data from Piper Sandler, which found that TikTok is already the third favorite social media platform with teens.
The COVID-19 Effect
Unsurprisingly, data from March and April indicates COVID-19’s notable impact on the average time kids spent using social apps. In fact, data from this period identified TikTok as the app used by the largest share of kids (48%), overtaking even Instagram (47%).
In the US, Instagram saw the largest increase in minutes of usage per day since before the pandemic (+20%), while TikTok daily usage grew by 16% and Snapchat’s by 14%. However, daily minutes spent by kids ages 4-15 on TikTok during March and April (95) far outstripped comparable minutes spent with Snapchat (65) and Instagram (60).
What’s more, TikTok appears to be fast joining the ranks of popular video apps like YouTube as it filled the free time left by the cancellation of school and social activities. During March and April, the average time spent by kids on TikTok (95 minutes per day) was almost on par with the time spent with YouTube (97 minutes per day).
The influence of the pandemic is also clear in data charting social media usage throughout the day. In March and April, usage peaked around 11 AM and was consistent through 8 PM, while in February usage reached its highest point after school hours, even then peaking at a lower level than during the COVID-19 months.
Houseparty, the social video app that launched in 2016 but was largely unheard of until this year, saw a particularly noteworthy change in usage during the pandemic. The share of kids using the app grew in each of the countries surveyed, but particularly in Spain where the share of users jumped from 0.2% to 20%, a huge change.
YouTube Leads in the Video World
When it comes to kids’ video platform usage, YouTube continues to lead the way, with Qustodio’s data showing that it is watched by 69% of kids in the US. The online video platform is most popular by some margin, with Netflix (ranking at #2) watched by fewer than half as many kids (33%). Interestingly, YouTube Kids is watched by only 7% despite being designed specifically for children under 13.
During the COVID-19 period of analysis, average time spent on entertainment apps saw an uptick. In March and April, kids spent an average of 97 minutes per day on YouTube, compared to 86 minutes in February 2020 and 57 minutes in May 2019.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: Findings are based on results from anonymous online habits data provided by 60,000 families with children ages 4-15-years-old in the US, UK and Spain.