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Facebook’s downfall: Only 32% of U.S. teens use it

Internet use has increased massively in the past two decades and today, there are more active users than ever. Social media websites, in particular, have become extremely popular, with Facebook being the third most visited site in 2021. Despite the recent rise of Instagram businesses and influencers, Facebook remains the most popular marketing platform – in 2021, 78% of its users said they have found new products and services on the platform according to data published by BroadbandSearch. TikTok, on the other hand, was the most downloaded app last year after launching internationally back in 2017.

Social media is a big part of teenagers’ lives – new generations are now being born in a digital world where texting and sharing videos have largely replaced real-life (or irl, as gen z’s would say) communication. Tracking what interests young people and, particularly teenagers, when accessing the Internet is a fascinating, useful tool for spotting larger trends and even peeking into the future. Which social media platform will dominate in five or ten years? Where will people search for news, entertainment, and products? How will businesses adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape? Striving for answers, the team at TradingPedia examines a new report called Teens, Social Media and Technology by the Pew Research Center. It uncovers some interesting tendencies in young people’s preferences such as the fact that nearly all teens right now use YouTube whereas only 32% say they use Facebook.

Key takeaways

  • 95% of U.S. teens ages 13-17 use YouTube, and 77% visit it at least once a day
  • 67% of U.S. teens have never used Facebook, although, with 2.9 billion active monthly users as of July 2022, it is still the most popular platform across all age groups
  • The top social media apps among teens are visually-oriented
  • TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are also among the most used social media platforms in the U.S.

The biggest social media platforms among teens

Before diving into the teen social media landscape we must understand the relevance of the Internet in today’s life. With a world population of 7.93 billion, 5.47 billion are Internet users according to data by Nielsen Online. This means that currently, 69% of all people on Earth have access to and use the Internet and from 2000 to 2022, the penetration rate increased by 1,416%. As of 2021, 4.48 billion people were on social media, with Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp each having more than 2 billion monthly active users.

And while Facebook remains the top platform of choice among all age groups in the U.S. and worldwide, American teens prefer to spend their time mostly on YouTube. The website which launched in 2005 as a video streaming platform is now the most popular social media site among teenagers in the U.S., with 95% saying they ever used it and 19% admitting they visit it almost constantly. Next in popularity is TikTok (and its original Chinese version Douyin) which was released in 2016 but did not become globally available until 2018 when it merged with the Chinese social media platform Musical.ly. Of those surveyed by Pew Research Center, 67% say they have used the app and 16% say they use it almost constantly.

The third most popular social media platform among U.S. teens is the video-sharing service Instagram, owned by Meta Platforms (known until recently as Facebook, Inc.). 62% of respondents are Instagram users, while 10% open or use it almost constantly. Photo sharing app Snapchat is following closely, with 59% of teens using it. 15% say they are constantly on it. Meanwhile, less than a third (32%) of all teens in the survey visit Facebook and only 2% are almost constantly on it. Note that researchers did not include Facebook’s Messenger as a separate platform in the survey, so it is likely that these percentages reflect the use of both Facebook and Messenger.

Teens were also asked about several other social media platforms and the results show that 23% used Twitter, 20% used Twitch, 17% were on WhatsApp, 14% used Reddit and a mere 5% say they ever used Tumblr.

Shift in popularity for social media platforms

Things change quickly in the world of social media, even more so when it comes to young people and their preferences. Facebook was once the most used social media website among teenagers in the U.S. with 71% of them being on it in 2014. Data from a similar survey by Pew Research Center shows that in 2014-2015, Instagram was the second most popular after Facebook with 52% using it, while Snapchat was used by 41% of respondents.

By 2018, when researchers conducted yet another survey, there was a significant shift in the social media landscape. Facebook’s popularity dropped and it had become the fourth most used platform with only 51% of teens using it. YouTube had replaced it – 85% of teenagers in the U.S. said they used the website. Another interesting fact is that two platforms from the 2014-2015 survey were not present in the 2018 statistics – Vine and Google+, which were discontinued.

Boys vs Girls and other demographics

There are several noticeable differences in the use of platforms between boys and girls, between white, black, and Hispanic. For instance, teen boys are more likely to use Twitch and Reddit. The video game live streaming service Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, is used by 26% of teen boys in the survey compared to only 13% of girls. 20% of boys used Reddit, a news aggregation and discussion website, and only 8% of girls said they ever used it. Teen girls, on the other hand, are more likely to use TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat – 73%, 69%, and 64% respectively, compared to 60%, 55%, and 54% of boys.

Interestingly, 81% of black teens were on TikTok, compared to 71% of Hispanic teens and only 62% of white teens. Black respondents were also the least likely to use Reddit – the website was used by 16% of white teens, 14% of Hispanic teens, and only 9% of black youngsters. For Hispanic teens, WhatsApp followed Facebook closely – 29% said they used it versus 19% of black and 10% of white teenagers.

When looking at use by age, the most notable differences are for Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit – younger teens ages 13-14 were less likely to visit and use these platforms than teens ages 15-17. In the list below, there are three groups of teens divided by household income – low income (less than $30,000), middle income ($30,000-$74,999), and high income ($75,000 and up).

BoysGirlsWhiteBlackHispanicAges 13-14Ages 15-17UrbanSuburbanRuralLow IncomeMiddle IncomeHigh Income

How frequently do teens use social media?

Since TikTok exploded in popularity in 2018 and 2019, there have been concerns that the app and the short video form of the content, may affect users’ attention spans and cause addiction. However, findings from the Pew Research Center report show that YouTube is used more frequently than TikTok, at least at first glance. Nearly three-quarters or 77% of teens visit YouTube at least once a day compared to 57% who say they are daily TikTok users. Daily (or more frequent) use of platforms drops to 51% for Snapchat, 49% for Instagram, and 18% for Facebook.

But when we look at how many use TikTok and Snapchat at all, we can see that a larger share of users log in daily or more frequently. Around 86% of those who use the two platforms open them every day. And a quarter of users are on the apps almost constantly. This brings us to the next question – is it hard for teens to stop using social media? Unsurprisingly, the short answer is “Yes”, at least for half of the youngsters that took part in the survey.

More than a third of teens or 36% say they spend too much time on social media, while 55% think they spend just the right time on these platforms. Another 8% believe their time on social media is “too little”. Researchers also asked them how hard it would be for them to quit social media and 54% of respondents said it would be hard – that would be “very hard” for 18% of teens and “somewhat hard” for 35%. For 20% of teens, this task would be “very easy”, while 26% found it “somewhat easy”.

Moreover, 78% of teens who say they spend too much time on social media admit it would be hard for them to quit it, with 29% describing it as “very hard”.

How hard would it be to quit social media?Very HardSomewhat HardSomewhat EasyVery Easy
Ages 13-1416%32%27%25%
Ages 15-1720%37%26%16%
Low Income17%37%26%21%
Middle Income18%32%30%19%
High Income19%36%25%20%


The analysis of teens’ social media use was published by Pew Research Center in August 2022 and focused on U.S. youngsters aged 13 to 17. The survey was conducted online by Ipsos from April 14 to May 4, 2022, and included 1,316 U.S. teens and their parents. The respondents were divided by age, gender, race/ethnicity, household income, metropolitan status, and more. Of the total unweighted sample size of 1,316, 686 were boys versus 596 girls, 504 were ages 13-14, and 812 were ages 15-17. 599 were white, 407 were Hispanic, and 138 were black. Most teens (702) lived in suburban areas, 321 lived in rural regions of the country, and another 287 teens lived in urban surroundings.

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