April 10, 2015
While some research published last summer showed that Facebook is still very much a part of the average American teenager’s life, it failed to show the dichotomy between those teens who actively use Facebook versus those who merely use it out of necessity.
According to a recent study released by the Pew Research Center, Facebook does indeed remain a dominant force in the lives of American teenagers – with 71 percent of teens reporting that they use the social network; however, it seems that teens from middle- and upper-class families show a preference for Instagram and Snapchat. Looking at the data, indeed we can see that as the family incomes for teens increase, we see a decrease in active Facebook use and an increase in active Instagram and Snapchat use. For teens coming from families earning less than $30,000, 51 percent cite Facebook as the social network they most often use; at the $100,000+ mark, that number falls to 31 percent of teens.
Delving further into the report, older teens (between the ages of 15 and 17) are more likely to use Facebook than younger teens (ages 13 to 14); the disparity is prominent: 80 percent of older teens claim to use Facebook opposed to 57 percent of younger teens. And apropos of the wealth disparity among Facebook users, the social network is used more predominantly by teens whose parents attained lower levels of education; 82 percent of teens whose parents achieved less than a high school education noted Facebook as their most active social site, compared to 69 percent for teens whose parents earned a college degree.
Since Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, there have been worries that Instagram wouldn’t hold up to its presumed high value. The Pew study shows that not only is Facebook continuing to play an important role in teenagers’ lives, Instagram takes the position of second-most influential social site or app for teens. It’s not surprising then why so many are trying to leverage Instagram for their businesses – Instagram’s got an ever-growing, active community of teens.
While Pew doesn’t suggest any reasoning behind why this kind of wealth divides exist, the study overall is interesting. Aside from looking into the social networks on which teens spend their time, Pew observed the overall Internet use of teenagers, looking at stats on mobile device use, how teens actually utilize their time on the Internet, and what percentage of teens are active users of gaming consoles.
According to the study, American teens basically are online always. 88 percent of American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 have access to a mobile phone – with a majority 73 percent owning smartphones. Outside of that, 87 percent of teens have or have access to a desktop or laptop computer. Because of this wide availability of devices, 92 percent of teens report going online daily – with 24 percent claiming to use the Internet “almost constantly”.
So, really, the main takeaway from this study: get off your damn phones, kids; go outside and play or whatever.
Read the full study from Pew: Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015.
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