More teens than ever are living their lives on social media, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center which found that the proportion of 13- to 17-year-olds who say they are “almost constantly” online has almost doubled, from 24% in 2014-15 to 46% today. Among black and Latino teenagers, that share is even higher, at 55%.
In a follow-up to a report made eight years ago, Pew researchers surveyed 1,316 teens in April for a report released Wednesday. More than half (54%) said it would be difficult for them to give up social media, especially for older subjects aged 15 to 17.
Accessing apps and websites has become easier with the increasing ubiquity of smartphones since 2014. The Pew report found that 95 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds surveyed have access to a smartphone — a 22 percent increase from the 2014-15 report. The percentage with access to a laptop or desktop computer (90 percent) and at least one game console (80%) remains fairly static.
YouTube is the platform of choice for young America, according to the survey: The Google-owned site is visited by 95 percent of teens surveyed, with 19 percent saying they watch videos on the site “almost constantly.” By comparison, Facebook, once a ubiquitous part of youth culture, has fallen out of favor. The percentage of teenagers who say they use Meta’s flagship platform has plummeted from 71% in the 2014-15 survey to just 32% today.
Pew researchers said 67 percent of teens surveyed use TikTok, and 16 percent say it’s a near-constant presence in their lives. Instagram and Snapchat are used by nearly 60% of teenagers, researchers found, with Twitter garnering just 23% of the youth demographic – down from 33% in 2014-15.
The social media landscape has changed since the earlier survey, with two of the first platforms included — Google Plus and Vine — no longer exists. TikTok did not exist in the earlier study either.
The current report found some gender divisions, with teenage girls more likely to use TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, and boys more likely to prefer YouTube, Twitch and Reddit.
In the 2014-15 survey, boys were more likely than girls to say they use Facebook most often (45% to 36%), while girls preferred Instagram more than boys, 23% to 17%.