How Teens Use Mobile And Social Media To Communicate
Teens have always been known for having a high level of peer-to-peer communication. It’s generally characterized by being hidden from adults, namely parents and teachers.
So what’s changed in 2015?
Teens use connected devices, namely smartphones, to communicate via texts and social media. Unlike previous generations, teens can interact with their friends without their exchanges being seen or heard.
This matters for marketers because teens are on the leading edge of technology and social media use. Even if your audience doesn’t currently use these devices and social media platforms, they’ll gradually adapt them to keep up with their children.
To appreciate how teens use connected devices (mainly smartphones) and social media to communicate, let’s examine the 2015 Pew Research Center’s Teens, Social Media & Technology Report. Based on a representative sample of 1,060 US teens ages 13 to 17, the survey was taken September 25 to October 9, 2014, and February 10 to March 16, 2015.
2015 Teen connected device use
US teens aged 13 to 17 own or have access to multiple connected devices including a smartphone, basic cellphone, computer (desktop or laptop), tablet and/or gaming console.
- 4% of US teens have access to only one type of device.
- 1% of US teens have NO devices.
2015 US teen mobile phone ownership
88% of US teens have access to a mobile phone. Many teens use their smartphone as a substitute for a computer. Check out what a panel of NYC teens had to say.
- 73% of US teens have a smartphone. Broken out by race, 85% of African-American teens own a smartphone, while 71% of white teens and 71% of Hispanic teens own a smartphone.
- 15% of US teens have a basic cellphone.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Most US teens use smartphones to communicate and connect to the Internet. It’s a substitute computer. Marketers need to be accessible via mobile to reach this demographic or you’re invisible!
2015 US teen computer and/tablet ownership
- 87% of US teens have or have access to a desktop or laptop computer.
- 58% of US teens have or have access to a tablet. Remember that a tablet is a large smartphone without telephone capability.
Family income has a slightly greater impact on teen access to a tablet than to a computer.
Note: The research didn’t check for computer usage or availability at school or at a public library.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Most US teens have access to a computer, even if it’s only in school. By contrast tablets are a luxury. Teens can get the same functions via a smartphone or computer.
2015 US teen Internet use
91% of US teens go onto the Internet via a mobile device. This rate is higher for African American teens and girls (no surprise.)
92% of US teens go online daily.
- 24% are online “almost constantly.”
- 56% go online several times a day.
- 12% go online once-a-day
- 6% go online weekly
- 2% go online less often than once a week.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Most teens are online at least once a day. If you want to reach them, you need to be present when they wish to connect with you.
2015 US teen texting habits
91% of US teen cell owners use text messaging, either via their mobile phone or an app or website.
- 33% of US teens with cell phones use messaging apps such as Kik or WhatsApp. 47% of AfricanAmerican teens who own cell phones, 46% of Hispanic teens who own cell phones, and 24% of white teens who own cell phones use messaging apps to send texts.
- Girls use messaging apps more than boys.
US teens send an average of 30 texts per day.
- Teen girls send an average of 40 texts per day and older teen girls send an average of 50 texts per day. This is consistent with girls and women being known for communicating more than their male counterparts.
- 18% of teens from families earning less than $30,000 annually don’t text while less than 7% of teens from higher-earning families don’t text. Text cost can be a factor.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Be available via text if you target the teen demographic! It’s how they communicate with others.
2015 US teens use video chat
47% of US teens use video chat including Skype, Oovoo, Facetime and Omegle. As with other forms of communication, girls especially the older cohort ranks higher.
- What’s surprising is that video chat isn’t used at a higher rate since when free wifi (such as at Starbucks and NYC parks) is available, both computer and smartphone users aren’t charged for voice, data or text units.
2015 US teen social media use
Teens use connected devices, mainly smartphones, to go online and engage with their friends. Their social media use extends their communications and enables them to provide increased information using images and video.Here’s a full analysis of US adult social media 2015 usage.
2015 US teen Facebook use
71% of US teens use Facebook. This is consistent with US adult usage. While teens use Facebook due to its broad reach, it’s no longer a “special” teen platform.
US teens have an average of 145 friends on Facebook, that’s 10 less than their adult counterparts. Like US adults, this number of friends is roughly the Dunbar number, the number of close relationships a person can maintain. (BTW–Here are 5 Key Facebook Trends for 2015.)
- 34% of US teens don’t know how many Facebook friends they have.
- 15% of US teens have 301+ Facebook friends.
Actionable Marketing Implication: You need more than just a Facebook marketing strategy to reach and engage teens.
2015 US teens on Instagram
52% of US teens use Instagram to share photos and video.
- 61% of US teen girls use Instagram and 44% of US teen boys use Instagram.
- US teens have an average of 150 Instagram followers. This is close to the number of Facebook friends.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Teens are visual too!!! Provide images and videos on Instagram to attract their attention. Make it easy for teens to share photographs involving your product.
2015 US teens on Snapchat
41% of US teens use Snapchat to share images and videos. In theory, these photos and videos are automatically deleted within a predetermined amount of time. Yet many workarounds exist allowing viewers to capture these images.
- 51% of US teen girls use Snapchat while only 31% of US teen boys use Snapchat.
- 43% of US teens from homes with household income of $75,000+ use Snapchat.
2015 US teens on Twitter
33% of US teens use Twitter.
- 49% of US teen girls ages 15 to 17 use Twitter.
- US Teen Twitter users have an average of 95 followers. No surprise—girls outpace boys in terms of the number of followers. The typical US teen girl has 116 followers and the typical US teen boy has 61 followers
2015 US teen Vine use
24% of US teens use the Vine app to record 6 second videos.
- 27% of US teen girls use the Vine app and 20% of US teen boys use the Vine app.
2015 US teen Google+ use
33% of US teens use Google+.
- 48% of Hispanic teens use Google+, 26% of US white teens use Google+, and 29% of African-American teens use Google+.
Note: Students may have access to Google+ through other Google tools available at school.
2015 US teen Pinterest use
22% of US teens use online pinboards. (Note: This data isn’t purely Pinterest.)
- 33% of US teen girls use online pinboards (including Pinterest and Polyvore) compared with 11% of US teen boys.
2015 US teen Tumblr use
14% of US teens use Tumblr, a social media platform focused on microblogging visual content.
- 23% of US teen girls use. Tumblr.
Actionable Marketing Implication: Teen girls use a variety of different visual platforms to express themselves. Take the time to understand your specific audience’s preferences, especially if you have limited resources.
Other 2015 US teen social media use
17% of US teens read or comment on discussion boards such as Reddit or Digg.
11% of US teens with cell phones use sharing apps or sites that allow users to ask questions or to post confessional text or images anonymously. Examples of this type of app include Whisper, Yik Yak and Ask.FM. This behavior is slightly higher for girls and Hispanics.
2015 US teen social media use varies
Facebook remains the most used social media network. 41% of US teens use Facebook most often and 20% of US teens use Instagram most often.
While teens continue to spend lots of time communicating with their friends, the devices they use and the social media platforms keep evolving.
Smartphones are teens’ device of choice. They provide phone, text and Internet connectivity. Smartphones are teens’ personal device.
While Facebook remains the largest US teen social media network in 2015, it’s no longer the cool place to be. 2015 US teen social media use is more diversified. Other social media platforms and apps continue to gain traction and fragment US teen social media use.
To reach US teens, you need a diversified social media strategy to maximize your potential audience. Further, optimize your social media for mobile consumption and sharing.
What else would you add and why?
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