Study: Fewer U.S. Teens Using Facebook, But 45% Say They Use the Internet ‘Almost Constantly’

By Max Augros | July 11, 2018 | 9:44am EDT
(Photo: Screen capture/YouTube)

( - Facebook no longer dominates the social media landscape of American youth, but YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat have seen significant growth in popularity with that age group, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center found that in 2018, roughly 51 percent of American teens ages 13-17 used Facebook, down 20 percentage points since the previous survey in 2014-2015, when 71 percent of teens reported using Facebook.

In 2018, Pew found that 85 percent of teens use YouTube; 72 percent use Instagram (up from 52 percent in the 2014-2015 study), and 69 percent use Snapchat (up from 41 percent).

(YouTube usage was not measured in the earlier study, nor was Reddit.)

The current 2018 survey notes that: “When it comes to which one of these online platforms teens use the most, roughly one-third say they visit Snapchat (35%) or YouTube (32%) most often, while 15% say the same of Instagram. By comparison, 10% of teens say Facebook is their most-used online platform.”

Other findings of the Pew study:

-- Lower-income teens are more likely to use Facebook than those from higher-income households.

-- Some 95% of teens now say they have or have access to a smartphone, which represents a 22-percentage-point increase from the 73% of teens who said this in 2014-2015. Smartphone ownership is nearly universal among teens of different genders, races and ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

-- As smartphone access has become more prevalent, a growing share of teens now report using the internet on a near-constant basis. Some 45% of teens say they use the internet “almost constantly,” a figure that has nearly doubled from the 24% who said this in the 2014-2015 survey. Another 44% say they go online several times a day, meaning roughly nine-in-ten teens go online at least multiple times per day.

-- While 88% of teens report having access to a desktop or laptop computer at home, access varies greatly by income level. Fully 96% of teens from households with an annual income of $75,000 or more per year say they have access to a computer at home, but that share falls to 75% among those from households earning less than $30,000 a year.

-- A plurality of teens (45%) believe social media has a neither positive nor negative effect on people their age. Meanwhile, roughly three-in-ten teens (31%) say social media has had a mostly positive impact, while 24% describe its effect as mostly negative.

-- Overall, 84% of teens say they have or have access to a game console at home, and 90% say they play video games of any kind (whether on a computer, game console or cellphone). While a substantial majority of girls report having access to a game console at home (75%) or playing video games in general (83%), those shares are even higher among boys. Roughly nine-in-ten boys (92%) have or have access to a game console at home, and 97% say they play video games in some form or fashion.

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