Facebook still cool among teens, says survey

In the face of evidence that Facebook is no longer in with the teenage crowd, 71 percent of teens surveyed by Pew say they use it.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Facebook is still a "dominant force' among teens, says a new survey. CNET

Facebook remains the most popular social network among teens ages 13 to 17, according to a new Pew survey.

Though such sites as Instagram and Snapchat increasingly appeal to teens, Facebook is still a "dominant force," Pew said Thursday. Among the more than 1,000 teens surveyed, 71 percent said they use Facebook, while 41 percent said Facebook is the site they use the most frequently over all other social networks. Instagram and Snapchat scored as the second and third most frequently used sites, respectively.

Retaining and even building the teenage audience is critical to Facebook to attract advertising dollars, both in the present and especially in the future. Meanwhile, Facebook's role in the life of the typical teen has been repeatedly called into question in recent years.

Surveys released last year, such as those from Piper Jaffray and Frank N. Magid Associates, have concluded that Facebook's popularity among teenagers has dropped over the last few years. However, a Forrester poll last year was more in line with the new Pew survey and noted that Facebook is still the most frequently-used social media site among teens.

In October 2013, Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said that daily Facebook use among younger teens had declined from the second quarter to the third quarter. But the next month, Facebook Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg dismissed such concerns, saying that "the vast majority of US teens are on Facebook, and the majority of US teens use Facebook almost every day."

According to the new Pew survey, most teenagers spend their time on more than one social network. But among the 22 percent who still use only one site, 66 percent pick Facebook, 13 percent use Google+, 13 percent Instagram and 3 percent Snapchat.

Boys were more likely than girls to say they visit Facebook most often (45 percent of boys versus 36 percent of girls). Girls polled were more likely than boys to say the same of Instagram and Tumblr.

Older teens from 15 to 17 years old were more likely than younger teens ages 13 to 14 to point to Facebook as their most used site (44 percent of older teens versus 35 percent of younger teens). Younger teens were more keen on Instagram than were older teens. That's still good news for Facebook since the company paid $1 billion to acquire Instagram in 2012.

Pew also questioned teens about their number of Facebook friends. Among those polled, the typical teenager has 145 friends on the network. Breaking it down, 30 percent reported somewhere between 0 and 100 friends, 12 percent between 101 and 200 friends, 9 percent between 201 and 300 and 15 percent more than 300. Around a third of the teens surveyed said they weren't sure how many Facebook friends they have.

Pew's survey was conducted online in the US in English and Spanish among about 1,060 teens ages 13 to 17 along with a parent or guardian from September 25 to October 9, 2014 and to 44 more teen/parent pairs from February 10 to March 16, 2015.

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.