November 23, 2022

How do educators keep up with students’ ever-evolving social media use & trends?

Did you know that 95% of teenagers in the United States have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are almost constantly on the internet? Lots of teens are using their phones to pass the time, connect with others, and learn new things, while some may use them to avoid social interaction. As students use technology and social media in their daily lives on a regular basis, new trends in usage have emerged, as well as insights into the world of student social media use. 

2022’s top changes in student social media use 

A new survey from the Pew Research Center has revealed many interesting insights and trends into how students are using social media today. After its debut several years ago, TikTok has climbed its way through the ranks and is now a top social media platform for students, aged 13 to 17. Other top platforms include YouTube, with 95% of respondents reporting using it, Instagram at 62%, and Snapchat at 59%. TikTok sits comfortably in second place at 67%. 

The rise of these platforms demonstrates the significant shift that has happened in the social media landscape since the years 2014 and 2015. Facebook has seen the most dramatic change, with student usage plummeting from 71% to 32%. Though students do not flock to Facebook anymore, the platform is still widely used among adults. 

Obviously, there is a large difference in how students use social media versus adults. But, the differences can be even seen among more similar age groups, like older teens and younger teens. Older teens believe it would be difficult to give up social media at a higher rate than younger teens, and older teens also report being more likely to have access to their smartphones than their younger counterparts. 

Differences in social media use do not only exist between age groups. Differing trends emerge between many demographics, including sex, ethnicity, geographic segmentation, and household income. 

Teenage girls and boys differ in their choice of social media platforms. Boys are more likely to use YouTube, Twitch, and Reddit, while girls spend more time on TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat. Black and Hispanic teens report more frequent internet use than White teens, with 56% and 55% compared to 37%, respectively. Teenagers who live in urban areas report being online “almost constantly” whereas smaller shares of suburban and rural teens say the same thing. Teenagers who live in a household making $30,000 to $74,999 use the internet almost constantly, which is more than teenagers who live in a household with an income of at least $75,000.

Understanding the trends when it comes to social media use among teenagers is important, especially when we see a major shift in the social media landscape. With this information, educators can better understand student experiences and empower them to use social media and technology positively.

TSI’s take on social media use among teens

With students spending an average of 8.3 hours per day on screens for entertainment, social media use among students is more prevalent now than ever. Students use social media to connect with friends and family, keep up with their favorite influencers, and post about things they care about. Sometimes navigating social media as a busy student can be hard, but #WinAtSocial, our gamified, online learning platform, empowers students to navigate technology and social media in high-character ways, no matter what trends emerge. 

In the #WinAtSocial Student Orientation Lesson, Taking Control Of Your Health, Happiness, and Future Success, students across the country participated in our 2022-2023 Student Kickoff Questionnaire. In this questionnaire, 22,600 students in grades 4th – 12th responded and provided us with insights about their social media and tech use, and how they interact in certain social situations- both online and offline. Educators can use these insights to make data-driven decisions and improve their school culture and community. Our 2023 Insights Report which reports on the top findings from the Student Kickoff Questionnaire will be coming out in December, with the latest information from this survey! Sign up for our Newsletter to have this report sent directly to your inbox.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.