A new survey shows teens’ time online has doubled.
The number of teenagers who say they are constantly online has nearly doubled since 2015, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center that also illustrates how rapidly the competitive landscape for social media is changing.
YouTube is the most popular platform among U.S. teens, with 95% of the coveted demographic saying they use the site or its mobile app, the survey found. ByteDance Ltd.’s video-sharing platform TikTok, which was launched in the U.S. in 2018 and thus didn’t exist the last time Pew performed a similar survey, is now used by about 67% of those between 13 and 17 years old.
Nearly half of U.S. teens reported that they are online “almost constantly,” a big leap from the 24% last reported to Pew in 2015. Speaking of social media specifically, 35% of U.S. teens reported that they were on at least one of the major platforms almost constantly.
The study found that Meta Platforms Inc.’s app Facebook has quickly declined in popularity among teens in recent years. In the 2015 survey 71% of teens said that they used Facebook, while 32% said they are on the platform today.
Instagram and Snapchat came in third and fourth of shares of teens who are on each platform. Popularity grew among teen users on both apps from the last survey.
Younger users, specifically teens, are prized by advertisers. They are also looked at as long-term business opportunities for the platforms that can attract and keep them as users, potentially over many decades.
Most large social-media companies, including Meta and YouTube parent 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, says The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s an evolving landscape on multiple levels—not just the platforms themselves with different names and things, but also even individual platforms were one thing a while ago, and now are different,” said director of internet and technology research at Pew, Lee Rainie.
The report also showed how prevalent social media is in the lives of many teens. More than half said giving up social media platforms would be challenging—with teen girls more likely to agree—while a third of teens said too much of their time is used on social media apps and websites. Teen access to smartphones has jumped by 22% since 2015, the survey found.
A study from The Mayo Clinic has linked high social media use in teens to depression and anxiety. The 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use, and emotional investment in social media, such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on, were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression.
Because of teens’ impulsive natures, experts suggest that teens who post content on social media are at risk of sharing intimate photos or highly personal stories and urge parents to look after their teens.
Snapchat, Instagram, and other social-media platforms have expanded their parental controls over the past year, to give guardians more control over what children see and how much time their teens spend on the platforms.
This week, Snapchat rolled out a new set of controls, giving parents the ability to see who their children are friends with and who they communicated with in the last seven days.