Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Facebook is Losing The Youth  - AdobeStock 519626023

The share of U.S. teens using Facebook has plummeted since 2015. As platforms like TikTok and Snapchat have soared in popularity, Facebook has tumbled to the point where less than a third of teens use it. (Pew Research Center)

NH: In 2014-15, 71% of American teens (ages 13-17) told Pew that they used Facebook (META). Seven years later, this share has plunged to 32%.

Other platforms that debuted pre-2010 also lost ground among teens over this period, including Twitter (TWTR, down -10 percentage points to 23%), and Tumblr (down -9 percentage points to 5%). But their decline in users was not as dramatic.

Replacing Facebook as the top social media platform is TikTok, which debuted in 2018 and is now used by 67% of teens. Two other platforms also saw their popularity grow: Snapchat (SNAP, up +18 percentage points to 59%) and Instagram (META, up +10 percentage points to 62%).

These three are now the only social media apps used by the majority of teens. The most popular online platform overall is YouTube, which is used by 95% of all teens.

Facebook is Losing The Youth  - Sep8 1

YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat lead the pack when it comes to the share of teens who use them regularly. Nearly a fifth of teens (19%) say they use YouTube “almost constantly.” 16% say the same for TikTok and 15% for Snapchat. For Facebook, this is a mere 2%.

The picture for Meta gets even worse when the results are further subdivided by age. Across the board, younger teens ages 13-14 are less likely to use social media sites or apps compared to those ages 15-17. But the difference is larger for Facebook and Instagram.

The difference in TikTok usage between the two groups, for example, is only 10 percentage points (71% of older teens vs. 61% of younger teens). For Facebook, it’s 16 percentage points (39% vs 23%), and for Instagram, 28 percentage points (72% vs. 45%).

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Clearly, Meta is aware of its issues attracting young users. Many of Facebook and Instagram’s updates over the past year have made them more like TikTok (see: Facebook’s new “discovery engine” and the addition of Reels), much like previous updates made them more like Snapchat. But these figures suggest that it has a long way to go.

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.