When you think of people addicted to social media, you probably think of millennials. Turns out that isn’t quite the case. According to a new Nielsen report published this month, older Americans actually spend more time on social media than their younger counterparts.
- Americans aged 35 to 49 spent around six hours and 58 minutes on social media a week.
- Americans aged 18 to 34, spent six hours and 19 minutes a week browsing their social media accounts.
- Not surprisingly, older adults aged 50 and over spent a lot less time online — spending an average of just over four hours a week on social media, according to the report.
While the selfie generation is synonymous with social media use in the public’s mind, there might be a reason why older Americans out-social media millennials. Sean Casey, Nielsen’s social division president, told the New York Times that, while the findings initially surprised him, they made sense once he realized that Gen X was really the first adult generation to grow up with Facebook and similar platforms.
“At a time when we wanted to be connected, [Facebook] came out right when we were at the top of our media consumption,” Casey told the Times. “It’s become second nature to our generation.”
In addition to age-related statistics, the study also found some other interesting facts. Among them: the absolute ubiquity of smartphones.
- Around 97 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds and 94 percent of 35- to 49-year-olds in the U.S. use smartphones.
- While older Americans might not use social media as much, the study found that seventy percent of those 50 and older had access to smartphones.
As far as which social media platform dominated among mobile users:
- Facebook took the top position with as astounding 178.2 million unique users a month.
- Next in line was Instagram, with 91.5 million users.
- Twitter, with 82.2 million users.
- Pinterest, with 69.6 million users.
Interestingly, Snapchat, the much-hyped favorite of younger smartphone users, was in sixth place — and ended up behind LinkedIn. The data for these findings was collected during the month of September 2016.
The 29-page Nielsen report was based on data collected from 9,000 smartphone users and 1,300 tablet users between July and September 2016, the New York Times reported. The data was provided, not self-reported.
Of course, the study does leave out one big demographic: teenagers under 18, Quartz points out. Teens, having been raised on social media and having fewer obligations, would have more time to use these platforms. And, indeed, there’s some evidence to back that up: a 2015 article by CNN found that teens spent an average of 9 hours a day consuming various types of media. That amounts to 63 hours per week — dwarfing the reported numbers for both Gen X and millennials.