WASHINGTON — Social media addiction is a real problem for many Americans. For some, the issue can continuously create interruptions in their daily activities that are potentially harmful to jobs, relationships, and even mental health. Now a new survey shows that more than half of American adults say they open a social media app on their phones — at least 10 times a day.
Researchers on behalf of The Manifest, a business news publication, recently surveyed over 511 smartphone users, hoping to gain insights on the social media habits of the average American adult.
The survey found that the typical social media user spends 10 to 20 minutes on an app after opening it. With 56% of respondents claiming they log onto Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other networks more than 10 times per day, that means half of America could be spending more than three hours of their day on the networks.
So who is using social media the most?
It’s easy to associate social media with millennials (aged 18 to 34), but would you believe it if we told you baby boomers check Facebook more frequently than any other age group? The survey fund that 93% of adults over 55 log onto the social media app every day, compared to just 85% of millennials.
Some findings were surprising, including the fact that 53% of millennials (aged 18 to 34) checked Snapchat daily — outdoing the Gen X demographic (ages 35-54) nearly threefold (18%), and baby boomers nearly eightfold. Just 7% of those over 55 are Snapchat faithful.
Overall, Facebook was the social media platform that saw the highest mobile engagement with 87% of respondents indicating daily usage. Of course, Facebook is positioned at the front of the pack for a reason. “Facebook invested considerable resources over the last ten-plus years in making an experience where everyone can find value in the platform,” explains Josh Krakauer, a social media marketing expert and founder of Sculpt, in a press release.
After Facebook, Instagram (49%) and YouTube (48%) were the most popular networks among all age groups. About a third (32%) of respondents indicated they used Snapchat, while only 31% regularly log onto Twitter.
The researchers also examined many of the wants and needs that influence social media usage.
Snapchat, they note, may hold more appeal to younger audiences that seek higher levels of thrill and personalization. Facebook, on the other hand, may better attract older demographics that desire less active involvement on a social network.
“One major reason why Snapchat is such a dominant force with a younger audience is that the entire experience is designed so that the camera is the communication tool,” says Krakauer. “It’s really changed how millennials communicate with each other and feels like a more personal space.”
The most common behavior on social media, the researchers found, was “liking” or “favoriting” posts (expressed by 36% of respondents), which by no coincidence, is a fairly passive activity. This finding also happens to fall in line with a popular theory called the 90-9-1 rule, which is a rule of thumb for how most internet users divide their time online.
“[The rule] says that 90% of the time we just consume content, 9% of the time we interact with content, and only 1% of the time we actually share something,” says Sheana Ahlqvist, a user experience researcher. In other words, just like web surfers, most social media users take the path of least resistance.
Respondents for the survey were selected on the basis of using at least three smartphone apps daily. Nearly half were under the age of 34, and almost three-fourths identified as female.