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How Much Time Do Teens Spend on Social Media in 2023? What Parents Need to Know

As a concerned parent, you may look at your teen glued to their phone and wonder, just how much time are they spending scrolling, liking, and posting on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube? Especially after the social isolation of the pandemic, you want to keep your teen connected, but worry social media obsession could be harming their well-being.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll dive into the latest research to uncover just how ingrained social media has become for teenagers in 2023. You‘ll learn:

  • Key stats on how much time teens spend on social media
  • Which platforms they‘re using most frequently
  • How constantly they check social accounts
  • Teens‘ own views of their usage
  • The impact on mental health and risks parents should watch for
  • Tips to promote healthy social media habits

Arm yourself with knowledge and practical solutions to help your teen strike the right balance. Let‘s dive in!

Shocking Statistics on Teen Social Media Usage

Social media has a nearly ubiquitous presence in most teens‘ daily lives. Some eye-opening statistics:

  • 90% of teens globally use social media according to researchers.
  • In the U.S., around 75% of teens have at least one active social media account by age 17.
  • Approximately 1 in 3 American teens spend a minimum of 8 hours on social media every day.
% of U.S. Teens Spending 8+ Hours on Social Media Daily
38.16%
  • In one survey, 13-year-olds reported checking social media over 100 times per day. That‘s almost once every 10 minutes!
  • A staggering 68.44% of surveyed teenagers feel their age group is more engaged on social media compared to older generations.
  • YouTube tops the list of most popular social platforms among teens, with 95% of U.S. teens using it to watch or create videos in 2022.

"Teens are spending increasingly large portions of time on social media. It‘s concerning when use exceeds 2 hours daily on average," cautions Dr. Amanda Cross, adolescent psychologist at UCLA Medical Center. "Heavy social media use can displace sleep, exercise, and face-to-face engagement critical for well-being."

So just how much time are they spending? Let‘s explore further.

Daily Time Spent on Social Media

On average, teenagers are spending multiple hours on social media platforms every single day. Specific survey data points show:

  • A sizeable 38.16% of teens spend 8 or more hours on social media daily. That‘s nearly a full-time job!
  • 13.39% estimate they spend between 7-8 hours per day on social media sites and apps.
  • 11.59% report averages of 5-8 hours of daily usage.
  • Only 6.10% say they spend less than 60 minutes a day on social media.
  • Just 8.34% report between 1-2 hours of average daily usage.
% of U.S. TeensHours Spent on Social Media Daily
38.16%8+ hours
13.39%7-8 hours
11.59%5-8 hours
8.34%1-2 hours
6.10%< 60 minutes

This indicates the majority are exceeding expert-recommended limits of 2 hours max per day.

Overall daily screen time for teenagers has ballooned in recent years, from 6 hours 40 minutes in 2015 to over 8 hours 39 minutes in 2021. While some increase was expected with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and streaming, the COVID-19 pandemic acceleration towards digital dependence played a major role.

Just looking at time spent on social media apps alone, U.S. teens‘ daily usage includes:

  • YouTube: 95 minutes
  • TikTok: 67 minutes
  • Snapchat: 90 minutes
  • Instagram: 62 minutes
  • Facebook: 20 minutes
  • Reddit: 13 minutes
  • Twitter: 10 minutes

This reflects time spent in-app only, excluding usage on other devices and platforms which adds to totals.

"Teenagers are entering a critical period for brain development and identity formation. Excessive screen time can negatively impact sleep, mood, focus, and relationships," cautions Frances Jensen, M.D., author of The Teenage Brain. "It‘s so important for parents to set limits and help teens strike a healthier balance."

Constant Checking: Teen Social Media Obsession

Along with how much time teens spend on social media daily, data also reveals how compulsively they check these platforms throughout the day. Fear of missing out fuels near-constant monitoring.

YouTube

  • 19% admit to using YouTube almost constantly throughout the day
  • 41% access several times daily
  • 17% check YouTube once daily
  • 12% view several times weekly
  • 6% say they check less often
  • Only 5% report not using YouTube

A full 60% check YouTube constantly or multiple times a day. This video platform thoroughly dominates the social media landscape.

TikTok

  • 16% confess to accessing TikTok almost constantly
  • 32% check it several times daily
  • 9% view once daily
  • 5% say several times weekly
  • 4% report tapping in less often
  • 33% indicate not actively using TikTok

Nearly half of teens check TikTok constantly or multiple times per day, spending an average of 67 minutes on the viral video app daily.

Snapchat

  • 15% admit to tapping Snapchat almost constantly
  • 29% open several times daily
  • 7% check once daily
  • 3% view several times weekly
  • 5% say less often
  • A sizable 41% report not using Snapchat

Constant checking is less common on Snapchat, but nearly 30% still open the photo messaging app continuously or multiple times daily.

Instagram

  • 10% confess to viewing Instagram almost constantly
  • 27% access several times daily
  • 12% check once daily
  • 7% report tapping in several times weekly
  • 5% say less often
  • 38% indicate not using Instagram

Over one-third constantly check or view Instagram multiple times a day, spending an average of 62 minutes on the platform daily.

Facebook

  • Just 2% say they‘re on Facebook almost constantly
  • 8% access several times daily
  • 8% check once daily
  • 6% report viewing several times weekly
  • 8% say less often
  • A full 37% indicate not using Facebook

Constant checking is rare on Facebook, as it declines in popularity among youth. But many still check daily, spending around 20 minutes on the platform.

This data indicates a significant portion of teens are checking social media constantly or multiple times per day, even on platforms like Facebook that are losing relevance among teens. Fear of missing out fuels compulsive monitoring.

“I find myself checking Instagram constantly without even realizing it—when I wake up, at school between classes, at lunch, and before bed. It‘s so hard to resist the urge to scroll and see new posts and Stories," admits Riley J., 16.

How Teens View Their Own Social Media Habits

When surveyed, 36% of teenagers feel they spend too much time on social media. But a majority still report their time spent as about right (55%) or too little (8%).

Analyzed by gender:

  • Boys – Too much: 31%, About right: 61%, Too little: 8%
  • Girls – Too much: 41%, About right: 50%, Too little: 8%

By age:

  • 13-14 – Too much: 28%, About right: 63%, Too little: 9%
  • 15-17 – Too much: 42%, About right: 50%, Too little: 8%

This data indicates older teenage girls are most likely to self-report overuse of social media compared to boys or younger teens. Kids often lack awareness of unhealthy digital habits.

“Teens‘ brains are still developing judgment and self-regulation skills,” explains Dr. Cross. “It‘s typical for them to feel attached to social media and minimize risks of excessive use. Parents can help by setting limits.”

How Challenging Do Teens Say Quitting Social Media Would Be?

When asked how difficult it would be to stop using social media completely, 54% of teens surveyed responded it would be hard, while 46% believe it would be easy.

  • 18% anticipate quitting social media would be very hard
  • 35% say it would be somewhat hard
  • 26% report it would be somewhat easy
  • 20% feel quitting would be very easy

Analyzed by gender:

  • Boys – Very hard: 14%, Somewhat hard: 34%, Somewhat easy: 26%, Very easy: 25%
  • Girls – Very hard: 22%, Somewhat hard: 36%, Somewhat easy: 27%, Very easy: 15%

By age:

  • 13-14 – Very hard: 16%, Somewhat hard: 32%, Somewhat easy: 27%, Very easy: 25%
  • 15-17 – Very hard: 20%, Somewhat hard: 37%, Somewhat easy: 26%, Very easy: 16%

Again, this data shows girls and older teens perceive quitting social media as more challenging than their younger, male counterparts – a concerning indicator of excessive attachment.

“Social media is designed to be addictive with features like notifications and autoplay. Teens‘ developing brains are especially vulnerable to digital dependence,” warns Dr. Cali Estes, addiction therapist. “It‘s crucial for parents to set limits and provide alternate activities.”

Which Platforms Are Most Popular with Teens?

YouTube dominates as the #1 social media site among teenagers across all demographics. But usage patterns of other platforms varies by gender and age group.

By Gender

Boys

  • 97% use YouTube
  • 60% use TikTok
  • 55% use Instagram
  • 54% use Snapchat
  • 31% use Facebook

Girls

  • 92% use YouTube
  • 73% use TikTok
  • 69% use Instagram
  • 64% use Snapchat
  • 34% use Facebook

Visual social apps like TikTok and Instagram enjoy higher usage among teen girls, while more boys flock to YouTube and Snapchat. Facebook lags with both.

By Age

13-14 Year-Olds

  • 94% use YouTube
  • 61% use TikTok
  • 45% use Instagram
  • 51% use Snapchat
  • 23% use Facebook

15-17 Year-Olds

  • 95% use YouTube
  • 71% use TikTok
  • 73% use Instagram
  • 65% use Snapchat
  • 39% use Facebook

Older teens are more active on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Only 23% of 13-14 year-olds use Facebook.

YouTube is a near universal favorite. But clear demographic differences exist on other social platforms.

What Are Teens Doing on Social Media?

Teen activities on social media are wide-ranging. Most commonly, teenagers are:

  • Interacting with friends – Maintaining existing connections and making new ones based on shared interests
  • Bonding with family – Keeping up with relatives near and far
  • Exploring interests and fandoms – Joining communities of fellow enthusiasts around K-pop, anime, sports teams, and more
  • Gaming – Playing games socially and modifying/coding games themselves
  • Expressing creativity – Posting original videos, photos, and content
  • Following influencers – Keeping up with famous YouTubers, TikTokers, Instagrammers, and more who create viral, entertaining content

Social media can satisfy teens‘ developmental needs for connection, identity formation, and creative expression. But concerning behaviors also occur:

  • Oversharing personal information – Like location, contact info, schedules, and more
  • Viewing inappropriate content – Such as violence, hate speech, pornography, and more
  • Seeking excessive validation – Via likes, followers, shares, and comments
  • Experiencing cyberbullying – Teens often hide negative treatment from parents
  • Comparing themselves negatively – To friends, influencers, or unrealistic, curated images
  • Excessive passive scrolling – Mindlessly consuming others‘ content vs. interacting

While social media plays a central role in teen relationships and interests, parents must be vigilant about potential risks of overuse and unhealthy behaviors.

“Peer pressure and teen desire for status often drives social media activity,” says Roxy Symonds, LCSW. “Teens need guidance to use good judgment, protect their privacy, avoid inappropriate content, and prioritize real-world relationships.”

Is Excessive Social Media Harming Teens‘ Mental Health?

While social media can provide connections and entertainment, excessive and unhealthy use raises concerns about potential impacts on teenagers‘ developing brains and mental health, including:

  • Disrupted sleep – Due to nighttime usage and reduced sleep quality
  • Increased anxiety and depression – Correlated with heavy social media use
  • Unhealthy comparisons – Leading to low self-esteem and body image issues
  • Cyberbullying and harassment – Causing serious emotional distress
  • Fear of missing out (FOMO) – The compulsion to constantly check apps and compare lives
  • Shortened attention span – Reduced ability to focus due to fractured cognition
  • Social isolation – Replacing in-person interaction with superficial online connections
  • Digital addiction – Problematic inability to limit technology use

“Excessive social media use during teen years can rewrite the developing brain’s reward pathways and establish unhealthy habits,” cautions Dr. Susan Orenstein, psychiatrist.

Parents must take an active role in monitoring and limiting social media time and promoting positive real-world activities to keep their teens happy, healthy, and thriving.

Actionable Tips for Parents

With social media playing such a central role in teens‘ daily lives, how can parents promote responsible use? Consider these practical tips:

  • Set clear time limits – Enforce daily or weekly caps on non-essential social media usage
  • Establish tech-free family times – Such as during meals, outings, and other quality time
  • Keep devices out of bedrooms overnight – To avoid late night social media and improve sleep
  • Utilize parental controls – To restrict usage across devices and block inappropriate content
  • Friend/follow your teen‘s accounts – Monitor posts and interactions without spying
  • Discuss appropriate posting – Share guidelines and reminders to pause before posting
  • Watch for signs of cyberbullying – And assure your teen you’re a trusted resource
  • Suggest social media breaks – A day, a weekend, or longer to reset the brain and focus outward
  • Remain approachable – Don‘t condemn their favorite platforms, but set expectations
  • Redirect passions into real-world activities – Cultivate their interests offline with like-minded peers

Stay involved, communicate often, set reasonable boundaries, and provide perspective. Your guidance helps ensure social media enhances rather than harms your teen‘s well-being.

The Takeaway for Concerned Parents

It‘s natural to worry about your teen‘s constant social media presence. But armed with information and an open dialogue, you can help guide them to healthy, moderate use that balances online engagement with essential off-screen activities.

While social media is here to stay, parents play a critical role in setting expectations, redirecting passions, supporting interests safely, and knowing when to intervene. By working together to find the right equilibrium, you and your teen can effectively navigate the digital landscape.

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Michael

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