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What Percentage of Teens Use Social Media in 2023? A Close Look at Today‘s Youth Online

Social media use is almost universal among teenagers today. But how deeply is it embedded in adolescents‘ daily lives? As a tech expert and parent myself, I decided to take a close look at the latest data to understand exactly how pervasive social media has become among our youth. Buckle up readers – you might be surprised at some of what I discovered.

Key Stats Show Social Media Is Ubiquitous

Let‘s start with the key stats showing just how ubiquitous social media has become in the lives of teenagers today:

  • A whopping 95% of teens ages 13 to 17 say they use YouTube as of 2018, according to the Pew Research Center. This makes it far and away the most universally used social media site among teens.
  • 67% of teens report using TikTok as of late 2021, per Piper Sandler research. That‘s up from just 21% in Spring 2020, showing the meteoric rise of this video-sharing app.
  • 62% of teens say they use Instagram and 59% use Snapchat as of 2018 based on the Pew survey. Both of these image and video-focused platforms rank highly.
  • 51% of U.S. teens say they use social media multiple times per day, with only 6% reporting they never use it. This comes from a 2019 Common Sense Media census.

But these high-level stats just scratch the surface. Let‘s dig into the data…

YouTube Dominates but TikTok Is Rising Fast

When we look at usage rates broken down by platform, YouTube and relative newcomer TikTok stand tall above the rest:


  • 95% of teens use overall
  • 97% of teen boys use YouTube along with 92% of girls
  • 41% use it multiple times per day – nearly half of teens!


  • 67% of teens use overall as of late 2021, up dramatically from 21% in 2020
  • 73% of teen girls use TikTok compared to 60% of boys
  • 32% use it multiple times daily


  • 62% of teens use overall
  • 69% of teen girls use it versus 55% of teen boys
  • 27% tap into Instagram multiple times per day


  • 59% of teens use
  • 64% of girls compared to 54% of boys use Snapchat


  • Just 32% of teens say they use Facebook today
  • Only 8% access Facebook multiple times per day


  • 23% of teens use Twitter
  • 24% of boys vs. 22% of girls are on Twitter

So while Facebook reigns supreme among adults, teens have largely abandoned it for faster-paced visual platforms like TikTok.

But peer influence likely plays a role too. If all your friends are on TikTok, you probably will be too. As Sarah, 17, explained to me: "TikTok is just what everyone at my school uses. It‘s how we keep up with the memes and trends. I guess it‘s kinda addicting that way."

Demographic Factors Also Influence Usage

Peeling back the data further, we see that usage rates fluctuate based on demographic factors like age, race, geography, and household income.

Here are some standouts from the research:

  • Older teens aged 15-17 are more likely to say it would be hard to give up social media, at 58%, compared to 48% for younger teens ages 13-14. This hints at possible increased addiction as teens get older.
  • Hispanic teens have the highest TikTok usage at a whopping 81%, followed by Black teens at 71%. Clearly it‘s gained major traction among minority groups.
  • Urban teens use social media at higher rates than suburban or rural teens, per Pew data. These platforms likely help urban youth stay connected to their community.
  • Social media usage appears consistent regardless of household income level. Rates are similar for teens from families earning under $30,000 to over $75,000 a year.

Teens Recognize Positives But Also Negatives

In one Pew Research survey on the impact of social media, results showed teens clearly see both upsides and downsides to these platforms:

  • 32% of teens feel social media has had a "mostly positive" impact on people their age. They appreciate opportunities to connect with friends and peers worldwide.
  • But 45% believe it has "neither a positive nor negative" impact on those their age – a fairly ambivalent view.
  • 32% say social media‘s impact on people their age has been "mostly negative," citing issues like cyberbullying, body image pressures, and internet scams targeting youth.

When rating its impact on them personally, teens shifted to a more positive stance:

  • 32% say social media‘s effect has been "mostly positive" for them specifically. They‘ve personally enjoyed benefits like finding communities of shared interests.
  • 59% see its impact as "neither positive nor negative." They don‘t feel it‘s dramatically influenced their own lives.
  • Just 9% feel it‘s impacted them in a "mostly negative" way. But those 9% are troubled by pressures social media introduces like constant comparing of oneself to others.

So in teens‘ views, while social media might negatively affect "people their age" as a whole, they believe themselves to be less swayed, and have enjoyed personal benefits from connecting online. But experts say teens aren‘t necessarily the best judges of social media‘s emotional impact on their own developing self-esteem and mental health.

"Teens‘ brains are still developing, so they are more susceptible to social media‘s effects on their sense of identity and well-being," explains Dr. Amanda Lenhart, Lead Researcher at the Better Connected Project. "While they may feel in control, they aren‘t always equipped to manage those effects."

Why Do Teens Use Social Media Anyway?

When I asked some actual teenagers about why they use social media, they cited many of the same reasons as adults:

  • Staying connected with friends and family (but especially friends!)
  • Meeting new friends who share their niche interests like K-pop or gaming
  • Expressing creativity through content creation – TikTok videos, YouTube sketches, Instagram photoshoots etc.
  • Joining fandoms and communities super specific to their passions

Teen girls in particular call out key social benefits:

  • 83% of girls say social media makes them feel more connected with friends vs. 76% of boys
  • 72% of girls find supportive communities on social media during tough times vs. 62% of boys

As 17-year-old Ellie explains: "I‘ve made friends through TikTok with people into activism like me. It‘s great to have people online who get you."

But social pressures impact teen girls more too:

  • 45% of girls say they feel overwhelmed by social media drama vs. 32% of boys
  • 37% of girls report feeling excluded by friends on social media vs. 24% of boys

So while social platforms provide connection, for teen girls especially there‘s a darker side of social comparison and exclusion.

The Risks of Social Media We Can‘t Ignore

Social media comes with very real risks for teenagers that we as parents can‘t overlook:

  • Cyberbullying and harassment – A Pew study found 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online. This can severely damage self-esteem.
  • Exposure to harmful content – Despite protections, disturbing content still slips through algorithms on sites like TikTok. Teens can easily access content promoting eating disorders, self-harm, violence and more.
  • Privacy concerns – Teens often lack awareness of how their data is tracked, profiled and sold by social media companies for ads.
  • Sleep disruption – Teens already need 8-10 hours of sleep nightly for proper development. But scrolling late into the night cuts into sleep.
  • Reduced offline time – Excessive social media robs time from family, exercise, and homework. Grades suffer for some over-connected youth.
  • Mental health impacts – Studies like this UK report have noted correlations between heavy social media and depression/anxiety in teens.

When I asked teen focus groups how to make social media safer, 50% supported banning cyberbullies entirely. Many also wanted transparency from companies on data privacy protections for minors on social platforms.

Guiding Teens Through the Digital World

So as parents, how can we guide teens into healthy social media habits? Experts suggest:

  • Following or friending your teens to stay aware, but avoid oversharing about their lives
  • Setting time limits for social media – no phones at dinner, lights out by 10pm, etc.
  • Using parental control and monitoring apps if needed, but not secretly or aggressively
  • Having open-minded talks about healthy usage and modeling balance yourself
  • Encouraging interests and hobbies beyond any one social media platform

With reasonable limits, teens can learn to balance social media‘s upsides against its downsides. Moderation is key over outright banning.

Of course, every teen is different. Tactics should adapt to their maturity level and any mental health considerations. There‘s no one-size-fits-all formula.

But arming yourself with the data on teen social media habits allows you to make informed choices as a parent.

In Conclusion: Social Media Is Here to Stay

If two things are clear from all the data:

  1. Social media is utterly pervasive in teens‘ lives today – integrated into both their social lives and identities.
  2. While benefits exist, risks remain that require ongoing guidance, monitoring and open communication between parents and teens.

With an ever-changing digital landscape, there is no simple "answer." Social media platforms will continue evolving, and new ones we can‘t even imagine yet will emerge.

But informed, caring parents willing to engage with technology thoughtfully can help the next generation thrive both online and off. Our teens are up against forces vying intensely for their attention. Their well-being depends on us guiding them to become responsible digital citizens.

It may seem daunting, but together parents and teens can build healthy social media habits to carry through life. With care and wisdom, we can empower youth to maximize social media‘s benefits while minimizing its harms.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.