Social media has become an integral part of most teens’ lives. As a teen scrolling through Instagram or Snapchatting friends, social media likely feels ubiquitous. But just how pervasive are social platforms amongst adolescents today? What percentage of teens are actively using sites like TikTok or Twitter?
This article will comprehensively cover the latest eye-opening statistics on teenager social media usage and dive into related trends. After reading, you’ll have a complete picture of how deeply ingrained social media is in teens’ worlds in 2023.
- Over 90% of teens report using social media daily. Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular platforms.
- Time spent on social media rises steeply during adolescence. 13-14 year olds use social media over 3 hours per day on average.
- YouTube, TikTok and Instagram dominate as preferred platforms among US teens today. Facebook sharply declines in popularity after age 14.
- Clear majorities across gender, racial and socioeconomic groups now use social media daily during adolescence.
- Social media usage continues growing, even as mental health concerns rise. Monitoring screen time is important for healthy tech habits.
Shocking Stat: 9 in 10 Teens Use Social Media
The standout statistic says it all – a staggering 92% of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use social media daily as of 2023. With only three in ten adults reporting the same, teen social media usage far surpasses all other age groups.
According to Pew Research in 2022, only 36% of parents with teenagers are aware their child is on social media every day. This enormous gap in perception signifies how embedded social apps have become in adolescents’ routines. Parents are often left unaware of their teen’s constant connectivity.
With the average teen juggling 5 or more social platforms, social media is clearly their primary channel for communication, expression and entertainment. The dominance of visually-driven apps like Instagram and TikTok makes social media intrinsic to teen identity and culture itself.
Hourly Habit: Time Spent on Social Media Rockets After Age 12
Preteens under age 12 spend around 80 minutes per day on social media. But time logged into apps, sites and games explodes as tweens become teenagers.
Data from Influencer Marketing Hub shows average daily social media usage rises over 500% between ages 12 and 16:
|Average Daily Social Media Usage
|13-14 years old
|3 hours 17 minutes
|15-16 years old
|3 hours 35 minutes
These averages would be even higher excluding outliers not on social media at all. For most teenagers today, social media takes up over 3 hours of every single day.
The hours of endless scrolling add up. By age 18, a teen will have spent over 25,000 hours on social media alone – more time than they will have spent in school!
The Big 3 Platforms: YouTube, TikTok and Instagram Dominate
So which apps make up teens’ 3+ daily social media hours in 2023? YouTube stands alone as the most popular across all ages. But Instagram and TikTok follow close behind, cementing their status as quintessential teen platforms.
According to Piper Sandler’s semiannual teen survey, the top 5 social media platforms by popularity among US teens are:
- YouTube (95% of teens use)
- TikTok (80%)
- Instagram (77%)
- Snapchat (66%)
- Facebook (34%)
YouTube’s ubiquity comes from its sheer range of entertaining videos. But image and video-sharing apps like TikTok and Instagram define social media for most teens. Their visual communication style and opportunities for self-expression align perfectly with adolescent interests.
TikTok’s explosive growth to over 80% of teens makes it the defining social app of the late 2010s/early 2020s teen cohort. Expect TikTok to continue dominating teen social media into the foreseeable future.
The Decline of Facebook Among Today’s Teens
Meanwhile, Facebook’s popularity has sharply decreased amongst adolescents. Back in 2015, Facebook was used by 73% of teens. But 2023 numbers show a stunning 53% drop over 8 years.
Teens associate Facebook with older generations and departed for more visually engaging platforms. Still, about one in three teens continue using Facebook, especially those age 16-17 nearing adulthood.
The following graphic illustrates Facebook’s declining teen user base since 2015:
Data Source: Piper Sandler Semiannual Taking Stock With Teens Survey
While Facebook connects generations, teens prefer platforms matching their personal, image-centric communication styles. The social media landscape continues rapidly evolving. How long until another app dethrones TikTok or YouTube for teen users?
Across Demographics, Most Teens Engage on Social Media
In the early 2010s, social media use varied more significantly across demographic groups. But today, large majorities of teens from all backgrounds use social media.
There are smaller differences in usage across factors like gender, race, geography and family income. But over 90% in every group now uses social media daily:
- Gender: 93% of teenage boys and 94% of teenage girls use social media actively.
- Race: Hispanic teens have highest usage at 97%, with Black and White teens slightly lower around 92-93% each.
- Urban/Suburban/Rural: Rural usage is slightly lower at 89%, versus 93% in suburban areas and 94% in cities.
- Income: Teens from households earning under $30k annually use social media only marginally less than wealthier peers, around 87%. For context, average adult usage for low earners is 68%.
Social media has reached near complete penetration for US teens of all types. Differences in platform preferences and features engaged persist between groups. But virtually all adolescents now grow up experiencing social media as a daily habit.
Social Media Use Still Rising Despite Mental Health Worries
With social media dominating adolescents’ attention, concerns around impacts on mental health and wellbeing have grown.
- 85% of teens say social media specifically creates pressure around appearance and self-presentation.
- 54% report social media has negative effects like bullying, rumor-spreading or unrealistic views of others’ lives.
- 36% say they’ve experienced online harassment themselves.
These downsides hold many teens back from fully embracing social platforms. Yet usage continues rising as social media becomes more deeply embedded into teenage socializing and identity.
The key for parents is promoting balance and safe tech habits. Teens averaging over 3 hours of social media daily need guidance around screen time management and evaluating sources.
Prioritizing in-person connections, outdoor activities and focused personal passions can keep social media in its proper place. Teens should enjoy social platforms, while monitoring how they feel after use and taking breaks when needed.
Conclusion: Social Media Is Teens’ Preferred Communication Hub
The statistics paint a conclusive picture – social media has become the primary communication and self-expression channel for over 90% of teenagers. Apps like TikTok and Instagram are integral to modern teen culture.
With social media dominating mindshare, ongoing attention is needed to mitigate negative impacts on mental health and relationships. But used properly in moderation, social platforms allow teens to explore identity, connect with friends and find community.
The core teenage experiences of growing self-awareness and strengthening peer connections now happen in social media contexts daily. As this generation comes of age, their immersion in social technologies will only deepen and evolve.
Frequently Asked Questions
How has teen social media usage changed over time?
Teen social media usage has risen dramatically over the past decade. In 2012, just 67% used social media. That number has risen to over 90% on a daily basis today. Time spent has also quadrupled from under 1 hour daily in 2012.
Are some teens not using social media at all?
Yes, around 8-10% of teens abstain from social media entirely. This number has remained steady the past 5 years. These outliers tend to have strict parents monitoring technology use or simply lack interest.
Do social media habits persist into adulthood?
Strong social media habits formed during adolescence often continue into adulthood. Over 80% of adults 18-29 use social media actively today, compared to under 35% of those 50+. So generational preferences persist across the lifespan.