Pew: YouTube Most Popular with Teens, Followed by TikTok

YouTube is the most popular social media platform among teens, with 95 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds saying they use the service, according to the Pew Research study “Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022.” TikTok is currently ranked second, with a 67 percent teen buy-in, according to the study, followed by Instagram (62 percent) and Snapchat (59 percent). While neither YouTube nor TikTok were on the Pew ranking when the previous survey was released in 2015, Facebook fell precipitously — from first to fifth place — with 32 percent of teens onboard in 2022, versus 71 percent seven years ago.

“Almost half of U.S. teens reported that they are online ‘almost constantly,’ a jump from the 24 percent who reported similar behavior to Pew in 2015,” The Wall Street Journal writes, noting that “on social media specifically, 35 percent of U.S. teens reported that they were on at least one of the major platforms almost constantly.”

About 67 percent of teens “say they ever use TikTok, with 16 percent of all teens saying they use it almost constantly,” Pew reports of the ByteDance short-form video sharing platform, which was launched in 2018.

Large social-media companies, including Meta Platforms — parent of Facebook and Instagram — and YouTube parent Google (owned by Alphabet Inc.) “have been pouring resources into short-form video features on their own platforms to compete with the rise of TikTok and draw in younger traffic,” reports WSJ, noting “younger users, especially teens, are seen as tastemakers and thus prized by advertisers. They also present long-term business opportunities for the platforms that can attract and keep them as users, potentially over many decades.”

The 2022 Pew report “showed how deeply social media is ingrained in the lives of many teenagers, in ways that those surveyed say aren’t always positive,” writes WSJ, adding that “more than half of teens said giving up social media platforms would be challenging — with teen girls more likely to echo that sentiment — while a third of teens said too much of their time is used on social media apps and websites.” Since 2015, teen access to smartphones has increased by 22 percent, the study found.

In focus groups that took place prior to the study, teens cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor in which social media outlet they spent the most time with. “Without being able to interact with others in the in-person environment, they were looking to see where their friends were going online, so that they could maintain those connections,” Pew research associate Emily Vogels told WSJ.

While Facebook’s usership has remained somewhat stagnant among all age groups, “this drop-off in a key demographic is bad news for Facebook’s ads business, which makes up the bulk of its revenue,” according to TechCrunch, which writes that it is a platform “teens often associate with their parents” and “has little to offer Gen Z.”

TechCrunch notes that the 95 percent YouTube usage figure is a misleading social metric, since “many users interact with the platform simply to watch videos, rather than as a place to connect with others online.”