Report: 85% of U.S. Teens Use YouTube While Facebook Sees Slip in Popularity



2018’s most powerful social trifecta according to U.S. teens? YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.


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Facebook is losing the popularity contest in the U.S. teen market to services like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Over 1,058 parents with children between the ages of 13 and 17 and 743 teens themselves participated in the survey with questions focusing on their social media habits.
Participants varied across different genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and level of education among parents.

The main finding from the report showed that YouTube was most popular amongst teens with 85 percent claiming they use the video streaming service. Instagram wasn’t too far behind with 72 percent of teens saying they use the photo-sharing service earning it the rank of second most popular service. Snapchat came in third place at 69 percent followed by Facebook at 51 percent.

In a similar study conducted by the Center from 2014-2015, 71% of teens reported being Facebook users while approximately half (52%) of teens claimed they used Instagram and 41% reporting using Snapchat. All numbers aside, this is a substantial shift for a three-year period that has markedly changed the face of the social landscape. The good news for marketers? If you’re looking to boost your video advertising efforts as part of your overall marketing strategy, now is the time and YouTube is the source.

Here are a few other key findings from the survey:

  • 95% (versus 73% in 2015) of teens reported they have a smartphone or access to one.
  • The nature of today’s mobile connectivity is driving more persistent online activities. 45% of teens (compared to 24% in 2015) surveyed said they are online on a near-constant basis with Snapchat and YouTube as the most-used platforms (35% and 32%), followed by Facebook (10%). Even fewer cite Twitter, Reddit or Tumblr as the site they visit most often.
  • Nearly half (45%) of teens claimed they felt social media has neither positive nor negative effect on people their age. This compares to the roughly three-in-ten teens (31%) who stated social media has had a mostly positive impact, while 24% described it the effect as mostly negative citing concerns of rumor spreading and cyberbullying
  • Facebook is more popular (70%) among teens from lower-income households earning less than $30,000 per year compared to those (36%) whose annual family income is 75,000 or more
  • Teenage girls are more inclined to use Snapchat compared to boys their age (42% vs. 29%). A larger percentage of teen boys gravitate to YouTube compared to girls (39% vs. 25%)

On the whole, the overarching takeaway is that “Smartphone ownership is nearly universal among teens of different genders, races and ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds,” per the Center.

The survey also contained quotes from some of the respondents offering a spectrum of opinions and feelings towards social media and its role in society, specifically the balance between community and individualism.

“It makes it harder for people to socialize in real life, because they become accustomed to not interacting with people in person.” (Girl, age 15)

“[Social media] allows us to communicate freely and see what everyone else is doing. [It] gives us a voice that can reach many people.” (Boy, age 15)

We’ll explore this theme in more detail across our global flagship conferences this year as part of our 2018 theme, “Closer.” Next on deck? SMWLA (June 12-14) at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. Can’t join us in person? Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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