Facebook still king of social media among teens

But Instagram and Snapchat don't fall too far behind

Facebook's mobile app.

Facebook's mobile app.

The findings of a new survey debunks theories that Facebook is losing its "cool factor" among teenagers.

Facebook is the most popular social network among teens, according to the results of the survey published Wednesday night by the Pew Research Center. The researchers found that 71 percent of all teens use it. And 41 percent of teens said they use Facebook the most often compared to other sites.

The findings are a victory for Facebook, which has had to address claims in recent years that its site is losing popularity among teens. In 2013, Facebook's chief financial officer admitted to a decline in the number of daily users among U.S. teens.

But while Facebook might still be popular, according to the survey, other social media sites aren't far behind.

Just over 50 percent of teens use Instagram, according to the survey, which was administered online to a nationally representative sample of 1,060 American teens of ages 13 to 17. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was the second-most popular social media site, researchers found.

The results also reflect the prominence of Snapchat, which is regarded as being popular among teens. The app, which lets users send messages and photos that eventually disappear, ranked third, with 41 percent of teens using it.

Twitter and Google+ tied, with 33 percent of teens saying they used those services. Picking up the slack was video-sharing app Vine, at 24 percent, and art-oriented Tumblr, at 14 percent.

The Pew survey was conducted between September and October of last year and between February and March of this year. It's the center's first in a new series examining teenagers' use of technology.

Pew said it doesn't have comparable numbers from previous years, partly because the new survey switched from a telephone to online method. Still, researchers have found "a diversification of teens' social media presence," meaning more teens are now using a greater variety of sites, said Dana Page, lead author of the report.

Much of teenagers' use of social media, researchers found, is due to the growth of smartphones. Nearly three-quarters of surveyed teens have access to smartphones, researchers found, and 24 percent said they go online "almost constantly."

The survey also revealed some gender-based differences in how teens use social media. Girls use some social media sites, particularly visually oriented ones, more commonly than boys. Just over 60 percent of girls use Instagram while 44 percent of boys do. And while more than half of girls use Snapchat, just 31 percent of boys do.

Pew said that forthcoming reports would focus on how American adolescents use social media and mobile phones to create, maintain and end their friendships and romantic relationships.

Perhaps they'll show how many teens fall in love via Snapchat, and decide to break up via Facebook.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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