Teens Using Social Media 'Almost Constantly,' YouTube Dominates: Report

Despite widespread mental-health concerns, almost half of teens in the U.S. are using social media “almost constantly,” according to a new report from Pew Research Center, which also shows YouTube continuing to dominate in this demographic, while Black and Hispanic teens are using the internet more than their white peers.

Pew Research's “Teens, Social Media and Technology 2023” report is based on a survey conducted between September 26 and October 23 2023 that measured social media and internet use among 1,453 13- to 17-year-olds in the U.S.

While the findings are not surprising or different from last year's report (Pew says teen internet use in 2023 is on par with what it reported last year), the report highlights a major shift across the past decade (teen internet use has doubled from 2014-2015) and recent concerns over the effects of social media use on teens' mental health.

In May, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy made a public announcement warning the country about the potential threats social media is posing to kids, including sleep loss, negative impacts on self-esteem, attention-management issues, anxiety-disorders and even suicidal thoughts.

Amid this call to action, dozens of states have filed lawsuits against major social media companies for taking advantage of younger users. In October, 33 attorneys general accused Meta of misleading the public about the “substantial dangers” of its Facebook and Instagram apps, which they said violated the federal children's privacy law for monetary gains.

Based on these concerns, Hispanic and Black teens in the U.S. could be impacted more than their white peers. Almost all teens have equal access to smartphones, but according to Pew's report, over half of Hispanic (55%) and Black (54%) teens are using the internet almost constantly compared to 38% of white teens.

In terms of gender differences, teen girls are more likely than boys to use Instagram (66% vs. 53%) and to “almost constantly” use TikTok (22% vs. 12%) and Snapchat (17% vs. 12%). Teen boys, however, are more likely than girls to use Twitch (22% vs. 11%) and Discord (34% vs. 22%).

While Facebook use is down among U.S. teens, Instagram is still a leading platform for this demographic, alongside TikTok and Snapchat. Pew found that 59% of teens are using Instagram.

YouTube, however, reigns supreme, with roughly nine-in-ten teens saying they use the video-sharing platform. In addition the platform being the most widely used in Pew&'s findings, it also ranked as the most frequently visited app. About seven-in-ten teens, Pew says, are visiting YouTube every day, including 16% who report visiting the site “almost constantly.”

In comparison, Facebook and X -- the app formerly known as Twitter -- are on the decline among teen use in the U.S.

The share of teens who use Facebook, for example, has dropped from 71% in 2014-2015 to 31% today.

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