Pew Study on Teens and Social Media

social media


The 2015 Pew study on Teens, Social Media and Technology Overview proved our expectations about Facebook’s dominance in social media. Other demographic results were also expected in regards to age and gender, but some interesting economic and ethnic disparities came to light.


With the rise of the smartphone, more teenagers (13-17 years) than ever are logged in and mobile.


Now, 71% of all teenagers surveyed are active on social media platforms, and 73% of them are doing so via their smartphones.


These percentages, plus the near universal rate that 92% of teens are now online at least once daily, means increased social media exposure and cross-platform usage.


Pew finds that Facebook is still winning out among teenagers.


  • Nearly 71% exclusively using that popular networking site.
  • The numbers change a bit when we look at age and gender. Girls, while more likely to use all of the popular platforms, are most likely to use visually-oriented social media networks like Instagram.
  • Older teens engage with Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter more often than the 13-15 year olds.


Increases in the use of free messaging apps—relatable to a number of factors from cellular phone plan pricing to more reliable public WIFI—are on the rise amongst teenagers. Of the 73% of teen users accessing social media from their smartphones, 33% are using messaging apps like WhatsApp. In fact, African-American (47%) and Hispanic (46%) teenagers are more likely to use messaging apps than their Caucasian peers (24%).


An intriguing finding marks a correlation between social media and economics.


  • Teenagers of wealthy homes with incomes $100,000+ are more likely to use every other network. For example, teens in those homes are 31% likely to use Facebook.
  • Teens from low income families (less than $30,000) are 51% more likely to stay connected through Facebook through the year.


While the Pew Research Center results are not surprising, they offer insight into which social media platforms to use for promoting opportunities and resources in support of a younger community.  These teenagers, after all, will become our future donors.


For the full Pew report, explore the PDF.


About the Author: Ryan M. McKelvey is a live artist and writer currently based in Pittsburgh. He holds an MA in performance and visual practices from the University of Brighton, and has worked and lived in South Korea and the UK. When not writing for New Place Collaborations, usually Ryan’s devising performances, practicing his Korean, and reading critical theory.