There’s a really interesting report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project: Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.
It’s fascinating stuff.
Teens are continuing to use Facebook in extremely large numbers. About 81 percent of all teens use at least one social media platform; 94 percent of all teen social media users have Facebook accounts.
But teens are less satisfied than they were with Facebook — for reasons noted in this post title — and they are increasingly compartmentalizing their social media choices.
The report gives no data for the prevalence of Snapchat use, but notes that it is growing fast with a high degree of user satisfaction. Note in the chart at the bottom the relative weakness of Pinterest and Google Plus. Given my own positive experiences with Instagram, I suspect the use of it will continue to rise, especially since it seems likely that more and more teens will have high-quality smart phones in the future.
Fewer teens are using Tumblr than I expected, which makes Yahoo’s recent $1.1 billion purchase of the site more problematic on the one hand, but on the other hand there’s ample room for revenue growth. I wrote about some of those issues in a recent post.
The data and details are so sprawling and interesting that I’m just going to use a series of block quotes for the rest of this post:
- Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past. For the five different types of personal information that we measured in both 2006 and 2012, each is significantly more likely to be shared by teen social media users in our most recent survey.
- Teen Twitter use has grown significantly: 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011.
- The typical (median) teen Facebook user has 300 friends, while the typical teen Twitter user has 79 followers.
- Focus group discussions with teens show that they have waning enthusiasm for Facebook, disliking the increasing adult presence, people sharing excessively, and stressful “drama,” but they keep using it because participation is an important part of overall teenage socializing.
- 60% of teen Facebook users keep their profiles private, and most report high levels of confidence in their ability to manage their settings.
- Teens take other steps to shape their reputation, manage their networks, and mask information they don’t want others to know; 74% of teen social media users have deleted people from their network or friends list.
- Teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-party access to their data; just 9% say they are “very” concerned.
- On Facebook, increasing network size goes hand in hand with network variety, information sharing, and personal information management.
- In broad measures of online experience, teens are considerably more likely to report positive experiences than negative ones. For instance, 52% of online teens say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves.
Teens don’t think of their Facebook use in terms of information sharing, friending or privacy: for them, what is most important about Facebook is how it is a major center of teenage social interactions, both with the positives of friendship and social support and the negatives of drama and social expectations. Thinking about social media use in terms of reputation management is closer to the teen experience.
Twitter draws a far smaller crowd than Facebook for teens, but its use is rising. One in four online teens uses Twitter in some way. While overall use of social networking sites among teens has hovered around 80%, Twitter grew in popularity; 24% of online teens use Twitter, up from 16% in 2011 and 8% the first time we asked this question in late 2009.
African-American teens are substantially more likely to report using Twitter when compared with white youth.
Those teens who used sites like Twitter and Instagram reported feeling like they could better express themselves on these platforms, where they felt freed from the social expectations and constraints of Facebook. Some teens may migrate their activity and attention to other sites to escape the drama and pressures they find on Facebook, although most still remain active on Facebook as well.
Most teens express a high level of confidence in managing their Facebook privacy settings. […] only 5% of teen Facebook users say they limit what their parents can see.
Teen social media users do not express a high level of concern about third-party access to their data; just 9% say they are “very” concerned.
Female (age 16): “And so now I am basically dividing things up. Instagram is mostly for pictures. Twitter is mostly for just saying what you are thinking. Facebook is both of them combined so you have to give a little bit of each. But yes, so Instagram, I posted more pictures on Instagram than on Facebook. Twitter is more natural.”
Female (age 15): “I have a Facebook, a Tumblr, and Twitter. I don’t use Facebook or Twitter much. I rather use Tumblr to look for interesting stories. I like Tumblr because I don’t have to present a specific or false image of myself and I don’t have to interact with people I don’t necessarily want to talk to.”