Survey: How Teens and Young People Really Use Apps

App developer Testmunk did a survey last April to try to figure out how young people really use the apps on their phones. While the results are nine months old, we find that they are instructive for parents. The survey took the pulse of about 400 people aged 13 – 24 from across the country. 65% of respondents were aged 13 – 17, and the remaining 35% were aged 18 – 24. Some of the highlights and our thoughts:

Source: Testmunk

Which social media app do you most frequently use?

  • Facebook – 27%
  • Instagram – 17%
  • YouTube – 14%
  • Tumblr – 12%
  • Snapchat – 12%
  • Twitter – 12%
  • Reddit – 2%
  • Pinterest – 2%

We’re surprised by a couple of these results: First, that Facebook is #1 on the list – more on Facebook below. Second, it’s curious to us that Tumblr rates so highly. Perhaps teen bloggers are making a comeback. For those with a lot to say, Twitter has certainly lost momentum.

When the survey takers compared Facebook time of use to the other apps combined, the other apps lead by approximately 3:1. Not surprisingly, Facebook doesn’t garner all the attention. The quotes from survey respondents paint a picture of Facebook as something you have to have (keeping up with family, creeping on romantic interests) but not really a social hub for teens, with the exception of FB Messenger.

“[Facebook] is becoming… a vestigial app… Everyone has it and is used to it, so we keep it, although Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, have all essentially overcome it.” –Respondent, Male, 17

When asked how often respondents open their favorite app, almost 40% said nine times per day or more. Since Snapchat and Instagram for example are used for messaging, that number doesn’t surprise us. In the case of Snapchat, 52% of teens who favor it open it 9 times or more per day.

How many hours per day do you spend on your favorite app? Listed by app:

  • Facebook – 2.6
  • Instagram – 2.2
  • YouTube – 3.8
  • Tumblr – 4.0
  • Snapchat – 2.7
  • Twitter – 2.6

What do the survey results mean for parents? Well possibly a lot. One thing they do tell us speaks to something we hear for parents all the time:

“I’m friends with my teen on Facebook so I’m pretty sure that I know what she’s up to online. It’s all harmless.”

While most teens and young adults have a Facebook account, it is far from the only show in town. And since teens know that most parents and lots of grandparents are on Facebook, that’s the app where the least bad or unsafe behavior is taking place.

You can use the framework of the survey to have a meaningful conversation with your teen about what he is doing online. Ask questions like, “What is your favorite app” “How many times per day do you open it?” “How many hours per day are you on it?” The answers, if honest, should give you some good insight into what is going on inside your teen’s phone – and social life.



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