Pew Research Reports on Teens and Social Media Platforms

A Pew Research Center survey revealed that Facebook no longer rules the social media landscape among U.S. teens aged 13 to 17. Although 51 percent of teens do use Facebook, that number is lower than those who use YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. The Pew Research Center’s last survey on teens and technology was in 2014-2015. Since that earlier survey, now 95 percent of teens own smartphones, or have access to one and 45 percent report being online nearly constantly. The survey was conducted March 7 – April 10 this year.

Pew Research Center reveals that teens are not in agreement over the impact of social media on their lives. About one-third (31 percent) say the effect is mostly positive, and almost one-quarter (24 percent) say it is mostly negative, but 45 percent dub the experience as neither positive nor negative.


The findings differ dramatically in other ways from the survey three years ago. In that survey, 71 percent of teens said they were Facebook users, the only social media platform that registered a clear majority. Fifty-two percent used Instagram and 41 percent used Snapchat. Now, “sizable majorities of this age group” use YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, with Facebook use dipping 20 percent.

Use of Twitter and Tumblr remain largely unchanged between the first and second survey.

Demographics among teens tend to see similar use among platforms, with some exceptions: “notably, lower-income teens are more likely to gravitate toward Facebook than those from higher-income households — a trend consistent with previous Center surveys.” In households earning less than $30,000 a year, 70 percent of teens use Facebook, compared to 36 percent of those in families with incomes of $75,000 or more.

Most used platforms are Snapchat (35 percent) and YouTube (32 percent), with Instagram at 15 percent. Only 10 percent say Facebook “is their most-used online platform, and even fewer cite Twitter, Reddit or Tumblr as the site they visit most often.”

Differences related to gender, race and ethnicity were also revealed: 42 percent of girls use Snapchat most often compared to 29 percent of boys, whereas 39 percent of boys cite YouTube as their “go-to platform” versus 25 percent of girls. Forty-one percent of white teens use Snapchat most often, compared to 29 percent of Hispanic and 23 percent of black teens. Black teens are more likely than white to “identify Facebook as their most used site (26 percent vs. 7 percent).”

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