YouTube Crushes Facebook Among Teens

Video site YouTube is the most popular online platform among teenagers, displacing Facebook, which once dominated social media with that age group.

That is according to a new study from Pew Research Center.

Only about half (51%) of teens 13-17 said they use Facebook, compared with 85% who said they use YouTube. In fact, Facebook is also topped by Instagram (72%) and Snapchat (69%). Rounding out the top five was Twitter, with 32%.

Asked which platform they use most often, respondents again gave YouTube the win, with 32% saying it is their go-to site, followed by Instagram at 15%. With 10%, Facebook again placed fourth.

Facebook has been under pressure in Washington and elsewhere to clean up its algorithmic and user privacy act in the face of questionable user-data sharing, Russian election hacking, fake news, allegations of conservative bias and more.

The social media site dominated in Pew's last survey of teens' online usage, conducted in 2014-2015, with 71% of teens saying they used the site, compared with 52% who used Instagram and only 41% who used Snapchat. But a big caveat is that YouTube was not included as an option in that 2014-2015 survey.

Another difference is that in the 2014-2015 survey, respondents had to give an explicit response to whether they used each platform, while the new survey gave them a list of sites and let them pick the ones they use.

Nonetheless, Pew said, "it is clear the social media environment today revolves less around a single platform than it did three years ago."

Almost 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, the survey found, while 45% said they were online "almost constantly."

On the gaming front, 97% of boys said they played video games online, compared with 83% of girls.

The online/phone study was conducted among 743 teens and has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.