The number of U.S. teens who say they’re online ‘almost constantly’ has nearly doubled in the past 7 years, study says—and they’re not on Facebook much at all

Gen Z’ers are often mocked by older generations for never putting their phones down, sharing their entire lives online, and closely monitoring the lives of others on social media. It turns out, older generations might be right. 

Habitual internet use among teenagers has nearly doubled since 2015, when 24% of teenagers said they used the internet almost constantly, to 46% now, a Pew Research Center survey published on Wednesday found. 

Internet use has risen in tandem with access to digital devices. The percentage of teenagers who reported having access to smartphones has reached 95%, up from 22% in 2015, according to the study. 

Pew’s researchers said there’s a connection between almost constant internet use and household income. The less a household makes, the more teens in it are online. 

“A slightly larger share of teens from households making $30,000 to $74,999 annually report using the internet almost constantly, compared with teens from homes making at least $75,000,” researchers wrote. 

For the study, Pew surveyed 1,316 U.S. teenagers from 13 to 17, from April 14 to May 4. The survey identified the top five platforms used by teenagers and the frequency of use. 

The top service was YouTube, with 95% of teenangers saying they use it, and 19% saying they use it almost constantly. And in a sign of TikTok’s rise, it ranked second, with 67% of teens saying they use it, and 16% saying they are constantly on the app.

The study found teenage boys were more likely to gravitate toward YouTube while teenage girls are more likely to use TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat

In terms of demographics, the study found Black and Hispanic teens reported using TikTok more often than white teens. 

Meanwhile, Instagram was No. 3 on the list, with 62% of teens using it. Snapchat followed closely behind with 59% of respondents saying they used it. Both platforms saw increases since Pew’s 2015 survey, which found Instagram at 52% and Snapchat at 41%.

Facebook saw a huge decline in use among teenagers, despite its founder Mark Zuckerberg’s efforts to keep the platform relevant to younger generations. Only 32% of teenagers reported using Facebook versus 71% in 2015. 

“Not only is there a smaller share of teenage Facebook users than there was in 2014-15,” researchers wrote, “teens who do use Facebook are also relatively less frequent users of the platform compared with the other platforms covered in this survey.”

“Just 7% of teen Facebook users say they are on the site or app almost constantly (representing 2% of all teens),” they added. 

Across these top five platforms, more than a third of teens say they’re using at least one of them almost constantly.

The effect? Around 36% of teenagers in the U.S. say they think they spend too much time on social media, and more than half say it would be hard to give up. 

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