Which Messaging Apps and Social Platforms Do Younger Teens Use Most Frequently?

December 10, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Connected Device Comparisons | Digital | Mobile Phone | Non-mobile Connected Devices | Social Media | Tablet | Teens & Younger | Video

Refuel-Young-Teens-Most-Frequently-Used-Messaging-Apps-Dec2015Instagram (47%) and Kik (44%) are the messaging applications that young teens are most apt to often use, according to results from a Refuel Agency survey [download page] of more than 500 teens aged 13-15. Both appear to be used frequently by more young teens than Snapchat (36%) and Facebook Messenger (35%).

Interestingly, despite its strong skew towards youth, Snapchat appears to be more popular among older (16-19) than younger teens. In a separate question which asked the full sample of more than 1,200 respondents (13-19) to cite the sites or apps they spend the most time on, both Facebook (58% vs. 38%) and Snapchat (42% vs. 33%) were indicated more often by the older than younger set.

By contrast, younger teens were more likely than their older counterparts to say they spend most of their time on YouTube (73% vs. 60%) and Instagram (46% vs. 43%).


These findings are interesting in light of other research on teens’ social preferences. The popularity of Instagram, for example, is supported by studies conducted by Piper Jaffray, the most recent of which revealed that Instagram is teens’ “most important” social network, ahead of Twitter and a fast-rising Snapchat. (YouTube was not an option in that survey.)

More recently, a Forrester Research study found that while YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram are considered to be “cool” by the largest share of their teen users, Facebook is the platform with the most “hyperusage” (defined as respondents saying they are on the site “all the time”).

It seems that young teens likely stick to those leading social platforms, as relatively few (39%) said that social networking apps are among the types they are most likely to download and use. Instead, games (72%) and music (57%) apps are the types of apps that younger teens are most likely to download. These are also the app types favored by older teens, according to a previous Refuel Agency report. As for music apps, a majority (58%) of the young teens surveyed reported sometimes or always using apps with music identification capabilities such as Shazam and SoundHound, while only 19% said they never use such apps.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the activities these young teens most commonly perform on their phones during the school day, texting (52%) and playing mobile games (52%) top the list, followed by social media (44%), taking and looking at pictures (42%) and browsing the web (38%). By comparison, few make phone calls or check voice mail (17%) and email (15%). Texting is also a more common phone activity than emailing among Millennials (18-34), per recent research from Invoca, though that study found Millennials also often using their phones to make calls.

In other findings from the Refuel Agency report:

  • While younger and older teens estimate spending the same amount of time each day with various devices, younger teens spend more time with tablets and video game consoles and less time with computers, mobile phones and TV;
  • Still, younger teens are more likely than older teens to cite tablets, TVs and MP3 players as their most important device;
  • Both younger and older teens cite privacy and security as their top 2 features in a browser;
  • Online videos would influence the most younger teens to try a new app, while older teens are most influenced by social media recommendations; and
  • As with older teens, younger teens name Apple, Samsung and Google (in that order) as the brands that they cannot live without.

About the Data: The data is based on a survey of 1,207 teens aged 13-19 conducted June 3-9, 2015. Among the respondents, 523 are ages 13-15 and 684 are ages 16-19.

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