Instagram and Snapchat are Most Popular Social Networks for Teens; Black Teens are Most Active on Social Media, Messaging Apps

A new poll of 790 teens age 13-17 conducted by The AP-NORC Center using AmeriSpeak® explores how adolescents use social media and messaging applications and examines disparities in use among teens of different groups.

A new nationally representative survey of 790 American teenagers shows that nearly all teens age 13-17 (94 percent) use social media platforms. This study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research points to Snapchat, a multifaceted application for sharing short-lived images and video narratives as well as engaging with news, and Instagram, a photo and video sharing application, as the most popular social media platforms among teens.

  • 76 percent of American teens age 13-17 use Instagram.
  • 75 percent of teens use Snapchat.
  • 66 percent of teens use Facebook.
  • 47 percent of teens use Twitter.
  • Fewer than 30 percent of American teens use Tumblr, Twitch, or LinkedIn.

Building on historically greater uptake of smartphones, black teens are more likely to use certain social media platforms—especially those designed and optimized for mobile use—and to use Instagram and Snapchat more frequently than white teens.

  • 86 percent of black teens use Snapchat; 71 percent of white teens do so.
  • 35 percent of black teens use Tumblr compared with 22 percent of white teens.
  • 17 percent of black teens use LinkedIn; just 7 percent of white teens say the same.
  • 40 percent of black teens say they use Snapchat almost constantly and 33 percent say the same for Instagram. Just 22 percent of white teens say they use Snapchat that frequently; for Instagram, it is 19 percent. 

Black teens are particularly connected to messaging apps, using more apps and using them more frequently than other teens. They are also more enthusiastic about video chatting and live streaming video.

  • 18 percent of black teens use five or more messaging apps, compared with 6 percent of white teens.
  • Black teens are more likely than white teens to use a number of these apps at least daily, including:
  • Skype or FaceTime (32 percent vs. 12 percent)
  • Kik (26 percent vs. 11 percent of white teens)

87 percent of black teens video chat with friends and family compared with 72 percent of white teens.

The data for this report were collected in a nationally representative survey fielded between December 7-31, 2016, using the AmeriSpeak® Panel, the probability based panel of NORC at the University of Chicago. Online and telephone interviews using landlines and cell phones were conducted with 790 teens 13 to 17 years old after consent was granted by a parent or guardian.

Full report and analysis are available by clicking on the links on the right side of this page.

Three Things You Should Know about The AP-NORC Poll of Teens on Social Media, Messaging App and Video Use:
Among American teens age 13-17…

  1. Snapchat and Instagram have surpassed Facebook as the most popular social media for teens; Three-quarters of teens use either Snapchat or Instagram, while 66 percent of teens use Facebook.
  2. While nearly all American teens send regular text messages through their phone, another 40 percent use messaging apps like Kik, WhatsApp and Line to communicate by text with others.
  3. Black teens are the most active of any group on social media and messaging apps – they are more likely than white teens to use platforms like Snapchat or Instagram and messaging apps like Kik, and to use them more frequently.