How Does Your Social Media Usage Compare to ‘The Norm’? How about a Teen?

Every year in recent memory, we have gotten information about the trends of social media sites and apps amongst different age groups. This year we learned about how Facebook isn’t really growing in numbers but is deepening engagement. At the same time a post on Medium called “A Teenager’s View on Social Media” went viral. How do you compare?


First, the Pew Research Internet Group looked at 2014 in social media, with a summary graph above. Instagram shows the largest growth, followed by Pinterest and Twitter. Facebook showed flat user growth, but the engagement – the amount of time people spend on the site/app – has increased considerably, while other social media sites got more users but no change in engagement.

Some other findings are summarized as follows:

?Multi-platform use is on the rise: 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.
?For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors.
?For the first time, roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. And half of all Instagram users (49%) use the site daily.
?For the first time, the share of internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50%.
?Women dominate Pinterest: 42% of online women now use the platform, compared with 13% of online men.

Head to the PewResearch site for the full four page report.

The other big social media news this week was “A Teenager’s View on Social Media”, which was “written by an actual teen”. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this type of thing, but the timing was perfect for it to go viral. The author is a 19-year-old UT Austin student, and he makes a number of observations about how his peer group views a variety of social media, summing up like this:

•You post yourself getting ready for the party, going to the party, having fun at the party, leaving at the end of the party, and waking up the morning after the party on Snapchat.
•On Facebook you post the cute, posed pictures you took with your friends at the party with a few candids (definitely no alcohol in these photos).
•On Instagram you pick the cutest one of the bunch to post to your network.

This was so popular that Andrew Watts wrote a follow-up looking at more social media sites/apps (and not surprisingly, he concluded teens have no clue what to do with Google+ either!)

The popularity of the articles caused them to be debated pretty widely in all sorts of media outlets, which is awesome – it allows people to try to understand that what THEY see as ‘social media reality’ doesn’t represent reality for everyone. There was an ‘old fogey’s analysis’ posted by danah boyd at Medium, which included this:

Teens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography and cultural background.

Which definitely has some truth to it, and much of what danah talks about is worth reading just as much of what Watts writes about is worth reading. But ultimately one of the big things about social media is how personal it all it.

Here is how it breaks down in our house:
– Me: Mostly Instagram and Facebook, occasional Twitter, rare Tumblr or Snapchat
– Wife: Facebook, some Snapchat, occasional Instagram
– Older son (18): Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook for Groups and Messages
– Younger son (~17): Heavy Tumblruse, also Twitter, Instagram, Facebook for Groups and Messages

There was agreement and disagreement with what was said in all of the articles among my family, because as noted we all do things a little differently – I am the most email centric, my wife lives on text messages, and the kids use a variety of apps.

So how does YOUR use of social media usage compare?

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About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!