Age Has a Big Influence on Social Media Behavior
How do social media habits vary by age?
We asked this question in our new global study, Social for Everyone, in which we spoke to over 40,000 people aged 6 to 54 across 35 markets. And we found that different age groups do indeed have distinct social media behaviors. Here’s a summary of how they differ, from oldest to youngest:
Ages 35 to 54: Self-Assured
Adults aged 35 to 54 take a balanced approach to social media. They know who they are and what they like. Most (90%) believe that their social media accounts reflect their true self. Compared with younger users, they care less about validation and how others perceive them.
This group is less likely to say they share everything on social media (26% vs. an average of 37% among respondents aged 12 to 54), to think that having lots of connections makes them look good (27% vs. 38%), and to feel embarrassed if they post something and don’t receive a lot of “likes” (22% vs. 33%).
Parents in this age range have even more reason to be on social media – to connect with their children. They’re more likely than those without children to have a social media account (86% of parents, 82% of non-parents).
Ages 25 to 34: Navigating Adulthood
Adults 25 to 34 came of age during social media’s rise and lived through its testing phase. As they navigate adulthood, they’ve become more cautious social media users. They are accustomed to sharing, rely on acknowledgement from others, and want to know what their peers are up to.
At the same time, they’re wary of oversharing. Many worry that pictures or stories on social media could cause problems in the future (51% vs. an average of 48% among respondents aged 12 to 54).
Parents in this age range are careful about their children’s online usage as well, with 63% saying that social media posts about their kids concern them (compared with 60% of parents 35 to 54).
Ages 18 to 24: Choosing a Path in Life
As they enter young adulthood, people aged 18 to 24 are focused on the future and conscious of how others perceive them. They feel more pressure to be “the best” (72% vs. an average of 66% among respondents aged 12 to 54), are more concerned about what others think of them (71% vs. 65%), and are more worried about making their parents proud (71% vs. 63%).
Since moving on from their protected teen world, their networks have expanded. Most (91%) have a social media account – and they’re the age group with the most social media connections (812 vs. an average of 561).
These young adults are starting to question social media’s impact on their lives, however. Most (60%) think they spend too much time on social media (vs. an average of 49%), 57% wish they could take a break from the internet and social media (vs. 49%), and 29% feel that social media has a negative effect on their relationships (vs. 21%).
Ages 12 to 17: Finding Themselves
Teens are seeking independence and trying to figure out who they really are. They describe themselves as “sharing and connecting” (86% vs. an average of 82% among respondents aged 12 to 54) and to enjoy sharing their opinions (86% vs. 84%).
Social media is a vital tool for teens – their whole lives are there! They’re more likely to share all their experiences on social media (45% vs. an average of 37%), to feel they cannot live without their phone (85% vs. 81%), and to worry about not having access to the internet (65% vs. 55%).
Their desire to always be “on” comes with a lot of pressure. Many believe it looks good to have a lot of social media connections (47% vs. an average of 38%). They’re also more likely to find it embarrassing to post something and not receive a lot of “likes” (40% vs. 33%) and to worry about online bullying (45% vs. 38%).
Ages 6 to 11: The Curious Years
Kids in this age range are just starting to try out social media, usually with parents and close family members. Nearly half (44%) have a social media account – and their top platforms are Facebook (71%) and WhatsApp (42%), followed by Instagram (25%), Skype (21%), Twitter (19%) and Snapchat (14%). Most of those who use social media have a parent as a connection (80%).
Social media participation among kids varies significantly by country, however. The top five countries are far above the global average of 44%: China (76%), the Philippines (75%), Saudi Arabia (74%), Indonesia (70%) and Brazil (65%). The bottom five countries are significantly below average: Australia (22%), Germany (20%), France (19%), Japan (19%) and New Zealand (19%).