STUDY: Rumors of Facebook’s Demise Among Teens Exaggerated

Despite the continuous flow of reports claiming that teens are done with Facebook, a new report from Pew Research Center reached a different conclusion.

4TeensWithTabletsDespite the continuous flow of reports claiming that teens are done with Facebook, a new report from Pew Research Center reached a different conclusion, saying that 71 percent of teens aged 13 through 17 use Facebook.

That made Facebook the top social network among teens in that age group who responded to the Pew study, followed by:


Pew found that 71 percent of respondents use more than one of the seven social networks in its study, adding that of the 22 percent of teens who only use one site, Facebook was the top choice, at 66 percent, followed by Google+ and Instagram (13 percent each), and Snapchat (3 percent).

41 percent of respondents said they use Facebook most often, followed by Instagram (20 percent) and Snapchat (11 percent).


When examining teens’ use of social media by gender, Pew found that boys (45 percent) were more likely to identify themselves as Facebook users than girls (36 percent), while Instagram and Tumblr were more popular among girls, at 23 percent compared with 17 percent and 6 percent versus 1 percent, respectively.


The study also found that teenage girls use social media sites — particularly visually oriented ones — for sharing more than teenage boys, who are more likely to own gaming consoles and play video games.

Older teens (15 through 17) were more likely to identify themselves as Facebook users than younger teens (13 and 14), 45 percent to 36 percent, and the same was true for Snapchat (13 percent versus 8 percent) and Twitter (8 percent versus 3 percent). Instagram was more popular among the younger group by a margin of 25 percent to 17 percent.

When examined by socio-economic status, teens from homes earning below $50,000 per year were more likely to say they used Facebook (49 percent) than those from homes earning $50,000 or more (37 percent). Snapchat was cited most often by the wealthier group (14 percent to 7 percent), and Twitter exhibited similar characteristics.


Other findings by Pew about the social networks it studied included:


  • 77 percent of urban teens reported more Facebook use, compared with 67 percent of suburban teens.
  • Teen Facebook users typically have 145 friends on the social network, with 30 percent saying they had zero to 100, 12 percent saying 101 to 200, 9 percent 201 to 300 and 15 percent more than 300. One-third were unsure how many Facebook friends they had.
  • Boys reported 100 friends to girls’ 175.
  • Younger users (13 through 14) averaged 91 friends, while older teens (15 through 17) averaged 168.


  • 52 percent of respondents reported using Instagram to share photos and videos, with girls (61 percent) more likely to do so than boys (44 percent).
  • Only 33 percent of boys 13 and 14 use Instagram, versus 50 percent of boys 15 through 17, and more than one-half of girls in the younger group. Girls in the older group were most likely to share photos, at 64 percent.
  • Teens averaged 150 followers on Instagram, with girls reporting a median of 200, compared with 100 for boys. 39 percent were unsure how many followers they had.


  • 41 percent of teens use the application to share photos and videos, which are automatically deleted within a predetermined amount of time.
  • Girls and older teens were more likely to use Snapchat.
  • Teens from the households with the lowest annual incomes, less than $30,000, were least likely to use Snapchat (30 percent), while that figure jumps to 43 percent for teens from more affluent households.


  • Older teens were more likely to use Twitter than younger ones, with totals rising from 13 percent of 13-year-olds to 28 percent of 14-year-olds to 43 percent of 17-year-olds.
  • Girls 15 through 17 were most likely to use Twitter, at 49 percent.
  • Teens averaged 95 followers, although 44 percent did not know how many they had.
  • Girls reported more followers than boys, 116 to 61, while users 13 to 14 reported a median of 30, climbing to 103 for the older group.


  • Hispanic teens (48 percent) were more likely to use Google+, versus 29 percent of African-American teens and 26 percent of white teens.
  • Teens from families with lower levels of education (high school or some college) were more likely to use Google+ (35 percent) than those from families with college degrees (27 percent).


  • 27 percent of girls use Vine, compared with 20 percent of boys.
  • Girls 15 through 17 were most likely to use Vine, at 29 percent.


  • 23 percent of girls use the microblogging service, compared with just 5 percent of boys.
  • Girls 15 through 17 were the most prominent Tumblr users, at 27 percent.
  • 10 percent of 13- and 14-year-olds use Tumblr, rising to 16 percent for those 15 through 17.

Pew Research Center associate director for research Amanda Lenhart, lead author of the study, said in a release announcing its findings:

Even as Facebook remains an important platform for a majority of teens, Instagram is commanding the attention of one-half of teens, and Snapchat nearly that number. There are some interesting differentials in the most frequently used social platforms, with lower-income teens using Facebook more often, while wealthier teens — while still using Facebook — are more likely than less wealthy teens to report that they use Snapchat or Twitter most often.

Readers: Did any of the findings by Pew surprise you?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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