Pew Research Study Finds Social Media Use Remains Stable

A new report from the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of U.S. adults use social media, a number that has been stable over the past five years. The survey drilled down into use of a variety of individual sites and apps, finding that YouTube and Facebook still are dominant, with 81 percent and 69 percent respectively of those surveyed reporting using those sites. YouTube and Reddit were the only platforms that saw “statistically significant” growth since 2019. Forty percent said they ever use Instagram.

The Pew Research Center reports that YouTube usage grew from 73 percent in 2019 to today’s 81 percent while Reddit grew from 11 percent in 2019 to 18 percent today. Forty percent of adults reported using Instagram and about 30 percent use Pinterest or LinkedIn.

About 25 percent of those surveyed said they use Snapchat, and “similar shares report being users of Twitter or WhatsApp.” Only 21 percent of U.S. adults use TikTok and 13 percent use Nextdoor. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, 71 percent use Instagram, 65 percent use Snapchat and about half use TikTok.

Although 69 percent use Facebook, making it one of the “most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States,” its use has “leveled off over the last five years.” It also found that, “the respective shares of Americans who report using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp are statistically unchanged since 2019.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 18-to-29 demographic were heavier users of social media, with 84 percent reporting using any social media sites, compared to 81 percent of those 30-to-49. Among the 50-to-64-year-old cohort, 73 percent use social media while only 45 percent of those 65 and older do so.

Those differences extend to specific platforms. In the 18-to-24-year-old cohort, 75 percent use Instagram, 75 percent use Snapchat and 55 percent use TikTok. Among the 65 years old and older cohort, only 2 percent use Snapchat, a 63 percent point difference from the 65 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds. Of the latter, 95 percent say they use YouTube, compared to 91 percent of those 30-to-49 and 83 percent of those 50-to-64-years old. That drops to 49 percent for adults 65 and older.

Age gaps diminish with Facebook, with 70 percent of those 18-to-29 using it, nearly the same as those 30-to-49 (77 percent), the 50-to-64 percent group (73 percent) and 50 percent of those 65 and older. Users on Facebook also remain “quite active on the platform,” with 70 percent of Facebook users saying they use it daily including 49 percent who use it several times a day. Fifty-four percent of YouTube users visit it daily, with 36 percent visiting several times a day.

For this report, the Pew Research Center report surveyed 1,502 U.S. adults via telephone between January 25 and February 8, 2021.