Teens & Social: Who Likes What?

August 31, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Demographics & Audiences | Digital | Hispanic | Household Income | Men | Social Media | Teens & Younger | Women

It’s well known at this point that teens have soured on Facebook, with TikTok quickly rising as a dominant force. Now Pew Research Center enters the fray with new data showing just how much teens’ preferences have changed in recent years.

Pew surveyed US teens (13-17) in Q2 and compared the responses with a previous survey fielded in 2014-2015. Per the results, the share of teens using Facebook has dramatically declined, by more than half, from 71% in the earlier survey to 32% in this latest edition. There has also been a decline in the percentage using Tumblr, from 14% to 5%.

By contrast, the share of teens using Instagram and Snapchat have both risen during that time frame, from 52% to 62% and from 41% to 59%, respectively.

This latest survey includes a number of platforms not measured in the earlier one. YouTube, asked about this year, vaults to the top of the list, with 95% of teens reporting ever using it. Following the popular video platform is TikTok, used by 2 in 3 (67% of) US teens, putting TikTok ahead of both Instagram and Snapchat (as supported by other research among Gen Zers).

The other platforms new to this survey are Twitch (used by 20% of teens), WhatsApp (17%) and Reddit (14%).

Demographic Differences

The survey also breaks down the use of various platforms by demographic variables including gender, race/ethnicity, age, household income, and location. Bearing in mind that some of these sample sizes will be small, here are some highlights from those results.

  • YouTube is used by more than 9 in 10 teens, regardless of demographic group. Along with WhatsApp, YouTube is the only platform to not have a considerable age gap in use (15-17-year-olds are much more likely than 13-14-year-olds to have adopted other platforms such as Instagram and Twitter).
  • TikTok use is higher among girls (73%) than boys (60%). It’s also higher among Black (81%) than Hispanic (71%) and White (62%) teens, and is more used by those in Urban than Suburban or Rural settings. As also seen in MarketingCharts’ Media Audience Demographics report, TikTok adoption is higher among low-income than higher-income respondents.
  • Instagram use follows the same general patterns as TikTok: its use is higher among girls (69%) than boys (55%), among Black (69%) and Hispanic (68%) than White (58%) teens, and among Urban (70%) than Suburban (61%) or Rural (58%) teens.
  • Snapchat is slightly more favored by girls (64%) than boys (54%), but does not have much difference in use when sorting by race/ethnicity, geographic setting, or household income.
  • Facebook is relatively similarly used by girls (34%) and boys (31%), and is without much difference among races and ethnicities. It under-indexes in use among those in a Suburban setting (24%) and by higher-income ($75K+) teens (27%). It’s worth noting that fewer than one-quarter (23%) of teens ages 13-14 use Facebook.
  • Twitter use does not vary much between boys (24%) and girls (22%), while White (20%) teens under-index relative to Black (31%) and Hispanic (28%) teens. Those in Rural settings (19%) are also less likely than average to use Twitter.
  • Twitch is one of the few platforms that is used by boys (26%) more than girls (13%). The gaps in use are much smaller when sorting by race/ethnicity and household income, though Suburban (24%) teens stand out as more likely than those in other geographic settings to use the platform.
  • WhatsApp is almost equally used by boys and girls, but is heavily favored by Hispanic (29%) teens compared to Black (19%) and White (10%) teens. It’s much more commonly used by those in an Urban (29%) setting as opposed to a Suburban (16%) or Rural (11%) setting.
  • Reddit clearly appeals to boys (20%) more than girls (8%). While almost equally used by White (16%) and Hispanic (14%) teens, Black (9%) teens lag in adoption. It tends to be used more by teens in a Suburban (17%) setting than others, and its adoption tends to increase with household income.
  • Tumblr, with its low adoption rate of just 5%, does not show distinct differences in anything other than age and household income, with the middle-income bracket ($30-75K) standing out in use (7%) compared to the low- and high-income brackets (4%).

Subscribe to our chart database to access an exclusive chart showing the above demographic findings.

Other Findings:

  • More than one-third (36%) of teens surveyed say they spend too much time on social media, compared to 8% who say they spend too little. A majority (55%) feel that the time they spend is about right.
  • Some 54% say that it would be very (18%) or somewhat (35%) hard to give up social media, versus 46% who feel it would be very (20%) or somewhat (26%) easy.
  • About 1 in 5 (19% of) teens say they’re on YouTube almost constantly, versus 16% for TikTok, 15% for Snapchat, 10% for Instagram, and 2% for Facebook. Daily use is highest for YouTube (77%) and TikTok (58%), while about half use Snapchat (51%) and Instagram (50%) daily.
  • Black teens (32%) are the most likely to say they use YouTube almost constantly, while Hispanic (23%) teens are the most apt to say they use Snapchat with that frequency. Both Black and Hispanic teens are closely aligned in almost-constant use of TikTok and Instagram. For each of these platforms, White teens trail distantly in almost-constant use.

About the Data: The results are based on “a self-administered web survey conducted from April 14 to May 4, 2022, among a sample of 1,316 dyads, with each dyad (or pair) comprised of one U.S. teen ages 13 to 17 and one parent per teen.”

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