Understanding Teens’ Preferences in Various Social Media Platforms

It is obvious now that teens can easily be found on every social media platform. It is also a fact that TikTok is emerging and winning over others. However, new research has been conducted by Pew Center, and it came up with different data to reveal how teens’ interests and preferences have changed in recent years.

Pew included US teens aged 13 to 17 and compared their responses from the data of previous research conducted in 20142015. When analysts compared the results of both studies, there was a noticeable difference in the number of teens who use Facebook now vs. then. It has declined dramatically by more than half. According to a past study, 71% of teens used Facebook, but a recent study shows that only 32% continue using the app. Similarly, the number of teens using Tumblr has declined from 14% to 5%.

On the other hand, the use of Snapchat and Instagram among teens has increased during the same time frame. Today, 59% of teenagers use Snapchat, while previously, it was only 41%. Also, the percentage of teens users on Instagram has changed from 52% to 62%.

In this survey, social media platforms that weren’t part of the previous study have been included. For instance, the number of teen users on YouTube has been observed in this study. YouTube emerged as a top social media platform that 95% of teens use today. TikTok is another video platform following YouTube, which every 2 in 3 (67%) of US teens are using. So, it leaves both Instagram and Snapchat behind without any doubt.

Twitch, Reddit, and Whatsapp are new platforms added to this survey. According to research, 20% of teen users use Twitch, 14% use Reddit, and 17% use WhatsApp.

Demographic Differences

This study divides the platform by different variables, including the following:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Household income

A few more factors are considered as well. However, keep in mind that the sample sizes of some results were smaller.

Highlights of the Results

Here are a few highlights of the results mentioned.


9 out of 10 teens use YouTube regardless of their demographic differences. Just like Whatsapp, there is no considerable age gap between YouTube users. 15- to 17-year-old teens are more likely to opt for other platforms like Twitter and Instagram.


Following YouTube, TikTok is also quite common among teens. Among its users, teen females are more than males. 73% of teen females use TikTok, while the males who use TikTok are only 60%. The sample is further divided by ethnicity and location. The use of TikTok is higher among Black (81%) than Hispanic and White. Teenage Hispanic and White users of TikTok are 71% and 62%, respectively. Moreover, TikTok users mostly live in urban areas than in suburban or rural areas. Another revelation about TikTok is that people with lower incomes are more interested in the app than those with high-income levels.


Instagram follows a similar pattern as TikTok. Teenage Instagram are primarily females. The share of teen female users on Instagram is 69%, while the share of teen male users is 55%. Regarding ethnicity and race, it has a higher percentage of Black teen users (69%) than Hispanic teens (68%), and White teens (58%). Similarly, it has more urban than suburban or rural teen users. Urban teen users of Instagram are 70%, while the suburban and rural are 61% and 58%, respectively.


Like TikTok and Instagram, teen females use Snapchat more than males. The number of teen male users of Snapchat is only 54%, while the number of teen female users is 64%. However, when the researchers considered demographic variables, there wasn’t much difference in the results. It shows that Snapchat users cannot be distinguished based on ethnicity, gender, household income, location, or any other variable.


Again, there is no difference in Facebook’s users based on ethnicity or race. The share of female teen users on Facebook is 34%, while the percentage of male teen users on Facebook is 31%. It doesn’t perform well in suburban areas as it only has 24% of suburban users. Similarly, teens with higher household incomes, that is, greater than $75k, are also not interested in Facebook. Only 27% of such teens use Facebook actively. Moreover, other stats show that fewer than one quarter, that is, 23% of teens aged 13 to 14, use Facebook.


There is hardly any difference between teen females and males users on Twitter. Only 22% of teen females use Twitter, while only 24% of teen males are on Twitter. Moreover, when the factor of ethnicity or race is taken into account, White teens underperform as only 20% of them use Twitter compared to Black teen users, which are 31%, and Hispanic, which are 28%. Those who live in Rural areas are also less likely to use Twitter, that is, only 19% have an online presence on Twitter.


Twitch is one of those rare platforms which teen males use more than females, that is, 26% and 13%, respectively. However, the gap becomes smaller when variables like ethnicity and household income are considered. Statistics also show that teens living in suburban areas are more likely to use Twitch than those living in other geographical settings.


Both genders are equally likely to use this platform. However, Hispanics teen users are more on Whatsapp (29%) as compared to White (10%) and Black (19%). However, teens use Whatsapp more in urban areas than in suburban and rural areas. 29% of the teen users belong to the urban setting, while only 16% live in the suburban areas, and 11% belong to the rural environment.


Reddit is more appealing for males (20%) than females (8%). However, White and Hispanic teens are equally likely to use this platform at 16% and 14%, respectively. On the other hand, Blacks lag in adopting Reddit, and only 9% of black teens currently use it.


The adoption rate of Tumblr is meager among teens at 5%. There is no difference in its usage among variables other than household income. Teens with low to high income are less on Tumblr (only 4%), compared to the teens with middle-level income (7%).

Other Findings

  • Other interesting findings of this research study show that one-third of the teens, that is, 36%, think they spend too much time on social media. LIkewise, most of them (55%) are satisfied with their time on social media. There are only 8% who think they spend too little time on social media.
  • Regarding giving up social media, 54% of teen users think it is hard to give up using the different apps, of which 18% think it is challenging, and 35% think it is somewhat hard. On the other hand, 46% of teen users believe it is easy to give up, of which 46% think it would be effortless, and 26% think it would be somewhat easy.
  • 19% of teen users think they constantly use YouTube, while 16% think the same for TikTok. On the other hand, Snapchat has 15% of such teen users, and Instagram has 10%. For Facebook, the users who think they are addicted to Facebook or use it daily are only 2%.
  • Black teens are highly likely to use YouTube, among other platforms. 32% of black teens think they constantly rely on YouTube for updates. On the other hand, 23% of Hispanic teen users feel the same about Snapchat. At the same time, both Black and Hispanics agree to use TikTok and Instagram daily.
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