Pew Survey: Reports of Facebook’s demise among teens greatly exaggerated

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Nearly a quarter of teens say they are online “almost constantly”

by Larry Magid:

A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that 71% of American teens use Facebook, followed by Facebook owned Instagram (52%), Snapchat (41%) and Twitter and Google+ (both 33%).

There have been numerous reports about teens pulling back from Facebook but the Pew results show that teens continue to use the service in large numbers. It also found that most teens (71%) use more than one service, but among the 22% who use only one, two-thirds (66%) use Facebook. The survey didn’t ask how much time teens are spending on Facebook and other services but other studies suggest that teens may be spending a bit less time on Facebook as they diversify their social media use. Still, Facebook remains that “utility” that both teens and adults use on at least a somewhat regular basis. On average, teens have about 145 Facebook friends with 15% saying they have more than 300 friends. A typical teen Instagram user has 150 followers with girls having more followers than boys (200 vs 100).

I was somewhat surprised to learn that boys (45%)  are more likely to use Facebook than girls (36%) though girls are more likely to use Instagram (23% vs. 17%). I’m not surprised to learn that older teens (15-17) are more likely to use Facebook than younger teens (44% vs. 35%).  Upper and middle income kids are more likely to use Instagram and Snapchat than kids from households earning $50,000 or less.

Online “almost constantly”

The study also found that 92% of teens report going online daily, including 24% who go online “almost constantly.” The survey found that 90% of teens exchange text messages with a typical teens sending and receiving 30 text messages a day.

Device types

Not surprisingly, much of this online activity is taking place on mobile devices. In a CBS News interview, the study’s lead author, Amanda Lenhart, said “we have a lot of teens who are using their mobile devices to go online and doing it really quite frequently.” Nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30% have a basic or feature phone. Only 12% of teens say they have no phone at all. African-American teens are more likely to have a smartphone (85%) compared to white or Hispanic teens (71%).
Nearly nine in ten (87%) of American teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a desktop or laptop computer, and 58% of teens have or have access to a tablet computer. White teens (91%) are more likely to own a computer than Hispanic (82%) or African-American (79%) youth. More than eight in ten (81%) of teens own or have access to a game console.

tudy also found that 92% of teens report going online daily, including 24% who go online “almost constantly.” The survey found that 90% of teens exchange text messages with a typical teens sending and receiving 30 text messages a day.

Not surprisingly, much of this online activity is taking place on mobile devices. In a CBS News interview, the study’s lead author, Amanda Lenhart, said “we have a lot of teens who are using their mobile devices to go online and doing it really quite frequently.” Nearly three-quarters of teens have or have access to a smartphone and 30% have a basic or feature phone. Only 12% of teens say they have no phone at all. African-American teens are more likely to have a smartphone (85%) compared to white or Hispanic teens (71%).
Nearly nine in ten (87%) of American teens ages 13 to 17 have or have access to a desktop or laptop computer, and 58% of teens have or have access to a tablet computer. White teens (91%) are more likely to own a computer than Hispanic (82%) or African-American (79%) youth. More than eight in ten (81%) of teens own or have access to a game console.

Methodology

Survey data was collected online by the GfK Group using its KnowledgePanel, in English and Spanish. There was a nationally representative sample of 1060 teens ages 13 to 17 and a parent or guardian from September 25 to October 9, 2014 and February 10 to March 16, 2015. Here is a PDF of the full report.

Disclosure: Larry Magid is CEO of ConnectSafely.org, a non-profit Internet safety organization that receives contributions from Facebook and other tech companies.