The beginning of the end? Teens are abandoning Facebook for YouTube

Facebook and Twitter’s long run as the de facto social media services could be coming to an end. Pollster Pew Research Center says today’s teenagers are increasingly skipping over traditional text-based forms of social media in favor of photo and video services, with just 51 percent of those ages 13-17 say they use Facebook, down 20 percent from 2015. Meanwhile, services like Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat saw dramatic growth in that time.

“The social media landscape in which teens reside looks markedly different than it did as recently as three years ago,” study authors Monica Anderson and Jingjing Jiang wrote in Pew’s report.

Eighty-five percent of teens use YouTube, which came in first overall. This was more than any other social media service, including Instagram (72 percent), Snapchat (69 percent), Facebook (51 percent), and Twitter (32 percent). Use jumped in both Instagram and Snapchat by as much Facebook fell, and Twitter’s usage among teens stayed nearly the same.

Teens were also three times more likely to say they used either YouTube or Snapchat “most often” than they were with Facebook, providing further evidence that the social media giant’s reach is beginning to dwindle. While Pew does not speculate on the reasons why teens are shifting their social media habits, it does note that lower-income teens are more likely to use Facebook and more often than their more well-off counterparts.

The reasons for Facebook’s decline aren’t exactly clear, even despite an overall drop in trust of the company. Teens were fairly well split as to whether social media had a positive (31 percent) or negative (24 percent) effect on their lives and those of others their age, with the remainder saying it had neither effect.

Among those that said it had a positive effect, connecting with friends and family was the most common reason why, while those that said it had a negative effect pointed to bullying and rumor spreading on the social network.

Smartphone usage is nearly ubiquitous in this age group, with 95 percent having some kind of access to a device, up from 73 percent in 2015. Forty-five percent of teens say they are online on a near-constant basis.

The study was conducted with 743 teens between March 7 and April 10.

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