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Facebook swiftly loses dominance as teens flock to other social media apps

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By Minda Smiley, Reporter

June 1, 2018 | 3 min read

It appears as though Facebook’s heyday is officially over: only 51% of teenagers ages 13-17 in the US still use the social platform, down from 71% just three years ago.

Teenager on phone

According to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are now the top three platforms among teens, with Facebook coming in fourth. A whopping 85% of teenagers report using YouTube, while 72% use Facebook-owned Instagram and 69% go on Snapchat. Only 32% of teenagers said they use Twitter, while less than 10% visit Reddit or Tumblr.

The survey does not take into account other popular apps like Musical.ly, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Like - all of which have millions of downloads on Android - which could also explain Facebook’s swift decline.

While Facebook used to be the dominant social player among this cohort, only 10% of teens now call Facebook their most-used online platform. Roughly one-third say they visit Snapchat or YouTube most often, while 15% say the same of Instagram.

When Pew conducted this survey in 2014-2015, only 52% of teens reported using Instagram, while less than half said they use Snapchat. YouTube was not an option in the 2014-2015 survey. The organization’s 2018 survey illustrates Facebook’s struggle to find relevance with Gen Z.

According to the survey, lower-income teens are more likely to gravitate toward Facebook than those from higher-income households, a trend that Pew says is consistent with previous surveys. Seven out of ten teens living in households earning less than $30,000 a year say they use Facebook, compared to 36% whose annual family income is $75,000 or more.

In addition to social media usage and habits, the survey also found that smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of life for teenagers in the US: 95% of teens now report they either have a smartphone or have access to one, up from nearly 75% three years ago. Additionally, 45% said they are online on a near-constant basis.

The survey featured responses from 1,058 parents who have a teen ages 13 to 17, as well as interviews with 743 teens. Interviews were conducted online and by phone earlier this year.

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