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US teens leaving Facebook in favour of other platforms

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For a while, it’s been suggested that teens aren’t loving Facebook as much as they used to. While Facebook might have been used strictly by teens and students in its early days, now everyone from your grandma to your best friend’s sister-in-law’s great aunt has a profile on the biggest social networking site.

So, perhaps it’s not surprising that teenagers have been going elsewhere for their social media fix. This was, of course, mostly speculation – until now.

A new study from the Pew Research Center has revealed that Facebook is no longer the most popular social media site amongst teens aged 13-17.

According to the latest polls, just 51% of US teens use Facebook, down 20% since the last teen social media habit survey in 2015.

So, what is the most popular teen platform? Indicating the growing popularity of online video, YouTube came out on top, used by 85% of teens. This was followed by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Twitter is used by nearly a third (32%) of teens and Tumblr’s popularity (14%) has remained the same.

However, Snapchat is the platform US teens use the most. According to the research, 35% cited it as their most-used app, followed by YouTube (32%) and Instagram (15%). Facebook, meanwhile, was listed as the most-used platform by just 10% of teens.

Speaking to CNN, chief strategy officer and head of technology at GBH Insights, Daniel Ives, argued that Facebook-owned Instagram is more important to the parent company than Facebook itself when it comes to younger demographics.

He explained: “Instagram has captured that demographic better than anyone could have expected,” adding that the numbers highlight “why Instagram is one of the best tech acquisitions done in the past 15 years.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found there has been an increase in the number of teens who own or have access to a smartphone, rising from 73% in 2015 to 95% in 2018. What’s more, teens are spending more time online. In 2015, a quarter (24%) of US teens admitted to being “almost constantly” online, but this year’s survey revealed that this has risen to 45%. A similar amount (44%) said they go online several times a day.

While these findings may raise concerns around smartphone/social media addiction and the impact it can have on mental health, the majority (45%) of teens feel the effects of social media have been neither positive nor negative. Almost a third (31%) said effects have mostly been positive while the remaining 24% feel it has been mostly negative.

Additionally, 12% of teens said social media has had a negative impact when it comes to giving in to peer pressure, and a similar amount expressed concerns about psychological or emotional issues related to social media use.


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