Social media habits vary little


The more things change the more they stay the same, at least when it comes to social media.

A new report from the Pew Research Center didn’t use those exact words, but their findings suggest our social media habits haven’t changed much over the past few years.

Most adults still like Face-book and YouTube, while the 18- to 24-year-old crowd still prefers Snapchat and Instagram.

Early 2018 data show that Facebook and YouTube still boast the highest number of users among all social media platforms. However, younger Americans tend to use a wider variety of social media platforms, and with more frequency than older users.

“78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat,” the report shows, and almost three-quarters of that age group will access the platform several times a day. “Similarly, 71 percent of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half are Twitter users.”

Don’t be surprised if some of these numbers sound familiar. We’ve been seeing them for the past two to three years, and the results always show the king of all social media still sitting on the throne, even if his crown is a little askew these days.

“As has been the case since (Pew) began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans,” the report shows.

“Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.”

The typical American is using three of the eight major platforms on a regular basis. Along with Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter, we’re using LinkedIn, Pinterest and WhatsApp.

Next to Facebook, YouTube has the largest user base. Although not considered a traditional form of social media, the site utilizes some of the same features we see on other platforms (i.e., liking, sharing, commenting).

Three-quarters of U.S. adults and nearly all (94 percent) 18- to 24-year-olds use YouTube.

“These findings also highlight the public’s sometimes conflicting attitudes toward social media,” the report suggests.

“For example, the share of social media users who say these platforms would be hard to give up has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014. But by the same token, a majority of users say it would not be hard to stop using these sites, including 29 percent who say it would not be hard at all to give up social media.”

Whether or not these groups will abandon social media altogether or find new platforms for connecting with others has yet to be seen. But for platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, now may be a good time to ask them to stay.

Adam Earnheardt chairs the department of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and his blog at adamearn.com.

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