Teens have shunned Facebook but are loyal to YouTube, survey finds


Anyone who’s talked to a teenager in the past five years knows that teenagers don’t spend all their time browsing Facebook posts. What social media sites do they watch on their phones and computers?

They watch videos, mostly on YouTube followed by TikTok, according to a Pew Research study of teens’ social media habits. Their interests are a mix of old and new. At 17, YouTube is the unrivaled dominant social media site for teens according to the study, with 95% of teens aged 13-17 saying they use the video streaming service. The second most popular option is TikTok at 67%.

Teens access all their favorite apps on smartphones and computers, and the vast majority of respondents said they have access to these devices. Most teens – 95% – said they have access to a smartphone, which could mean owning their own or using a shared device at home. They check their devices a lot, with 46% saying they use the internet “almost constantly”. While around a third of teens think they use social media too much, more than half say they use it for the right amount of time.

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There are gender differences in app usage. Teenage girls were more likely to use TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat than boys, while teenage boys gravitated more towards YouTube, Reddit and Twitch. There are also some racial divisions when it comes to social media. Black teens were more likely to use TikTok, with 81% saying they used the short form video app, while Hispanic teens were more likely than other groups to use WhatsApp.

“The social media landscape for teens is dynamic and changing,” said Emily Vogels, research associate at Pew. “It’s worth remembering that these platforms themselves evolve over time”

When Pew conducted a similar survey of teen social media habits in 2014-2015, 71% of teens said they use Facebook. Now only 32% say they’re on the app, but Facebook parent Meta hasn’t completely lost them. Its Instagram photo and video app attracts the attention of 62% of teens, and Meta’s WhatsApp chat app is used by 17% of teens.

“We can’t say for sure why fewer teens are using Facebook. It’s not as easy as asking them why,” Vogels said. “They don’t know why.”

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When asked in focus groups why they choose the apps they do, many teens told Pew researchers it depends on where they can find the people they most want to be with. ‘engage. Twitter and Tumblr are other apps that lost teenage users.

The survey didn’t include the optional chat and audio app Discord, or most of the smaller apps that rise and fall in popularity among teens. In a pre-survey design focus group, Vogels said teens mentioned apps they had discovered and already abandoned or seen close to during the pandemic, such as the group video chat app. Houseparty.

Pew interviewed 1,316 American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 for the study between April 14 and May 4. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

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