How much time the UK spends on social media according to age

Monitoring children’s’ habits on social media are one of the biggest obstacles many parents face. 

. Not knowing what content your child is exposed to and curbing digital addictions is increasingly difficult, especially after the pandemic, where online communication was the only way to keep in touch with friends and loved ones.

So how much time are our kids spending on social media? By analysing the time spent on the most popular social media apps, including Instagram, TikTok and Facebook from 2020-2021, Qustodio reveal the surprising social media habits of 10–18-year-olds in the UK.

The study reveals:

  • More under 18s are blocking social media apps than ever before
  • How much more time on average under 18s spend on social media in 2021 compared to 2020
  • The most popular social media apps for kids and how they’ve increased in the last year

TikTok is the most used social media platforms for under 18s

After the 2020 lockdowns, TikTok was one of the most popular apps for under 18s with numerous TikTok challenges dominating social media for weeks at a time. Despite lockdowns easing, TikTok still remains the most popular social media for under 18s, with a 5.64% increase in users under 18 in 2021:

UK

SN

2020

2021

1

TikTok

 

17.84%

 

23.48%

2

Snapchat

 

11.88%

 

17.38%

3

Instagram

 

15.49%

 

17.11%

4

Facebook

 

6.64%

 

16.80%

5

Pinterest

 

3.27%

 

4.71%

6

Twitter

 

2.37%

 

3.52%

7

Reddit

 

1.92%

 

3.20%

TikTok’s popularity increases throughout each age group too, with each age group seeing at least a 2% uplift in users:

2020 % usage

2021 % usage

% Increase

10-12 year olds

20.12%

22.32%

2.2%

13-15 year olds

20.97%

28.58%

7.61%

16-18 year olds

15.44%

21.16%

5.72%

Snapchat’s use also saw a massive increase from 2020 to 2021, especially in the first few months where schools were closed, meaning school kids couldn’t see their friends. Snapchat is a popular social media for kids to stay in touch, as not only is it a photo sharing app but users can make group chats and calls.

2020 % usage

2021 % usage

% Increase

10-12 year olds

8.67%

12.62%

3.95%

13-15 year olds

16.41%

23.21%

6.8%

16-18 year olds

18.37%

20.96%

2.59%

Perhaps surprisingly, Instagram has seen the lowest increase per age group for all the social media apps, with a 0.56% decrease in users ages 10-12 years old. The increase, however, for 13-15 year olds was only minimal, coming in at just 0.47% more in 2021 than 2020.

2020 % usage

2021 % usage

% Change

10-12 year olds

7.84%

7.28%

0.56% decrease

13-15 year olds

24.21%

24.68%

0.47% increase

16-18 year olds

23.27%

25.78%

2.51% increase

Despite only being the fourth most popular app for under 18s, each age group has seen a huge increase in users in the past year alone. In particular, 10–12-year-olds have seen the biggest uplift of 11.05% in the last year.

2020 % usage

2021 % usage

% Increase

10-12 year olds

3.46%

14.51%

11.05%

13-15 year olds

6.58%

16.78%

10.20%

16-18 year olds

12.59%

17.34%

4.75%

Average daily use (September 2020 and September 2021)

Country

Age Group

2020

2021

UK

10 - 12

0:27:13

0:27:01

UK

13 - 15

0:42:29

0:43:46

UK

16 - 18

0:57:08

1:09:23

16–18-year-olds saw the biggest increase in social media use in the past year, with over 12 minutes more on average per day than the previous year. At the younger end, 10–12-year-olds saw a slight decrease in social media time and the average time remains quite low, at under half an hour per day, perhaps reflecting more parents’ intervention with preventing too much excessive screen time.

More under 18s are blocking social media apps:

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the study reveals that more under 18-year-olds have blocked social media sites:

UK

SN

2020

2021

1

TikTok

18.71%

24.33%

2

Facebook

17.54%

19.52%

3

Snapchat

12.73%

16.56%

4

Instagram

14.16%

14.85%

5

Twitter

7.33%

8.45%

6

Pinterest

5.67%

6.72%

7

Reddit

4.44%

6.50%

As the table above shows, more 10–18-year-olds have blocked and deleted their social media apps. As the world is getting back to normal, and face to face contact has finally returned, more teens are becoming less reliant on social media apps to keep in contact.

The most blocked app is TikTok, with 24.33% accounts belonging to under 18s blocking the video sharing platform in 2021, which is an almost 6% increase on blocks in 2020. However, TikTok still remains the most popular social networking app in the UK, with 23.48% of under 18s being active users.

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