Teens engage in a wide range of activities on social network sites, with chatting and instant messaging, commenting on their friends’ posts, and posting their own status updates leading the way—just under nine in ten teen social media users do each of these activities. On the other end of the scale, gaming is the least common activity we measured in our survey, as half of teen social media users play games within the context of these sites. Note that gaming outside the social media context is quite common among teens, as a total of 85% of all teens play video games on a computer or gaming console.
Overall, the median teen social media user takes part in six of the seven activities we measured in our survey.
Older teens tend to be more active users of social media than their younger counterparts. Social media users ages 14-17 are significantly more likely than those ages 12-13 to post comments on something their friends have posted; to post status updates; to post photos or videos; and to tag others in posts, photos, or videos. Younger teens stand out in their tendency to use these sites to play games. Among social media-using teens, fully 69% of 12-13 year-olds use these sites to play games, compared with 44% of those ages 14-17.
Girls and boys use social media sites in similar ways, although girls are somewhat more likely to use these sites to post photos or videos (88% of girl social media users do this, compared with 71% of boys) and to tag other people (79% vs. 60%). Similarly, there are few differences based on race or ethnicity, with two exceptions. White teens are more likely than black teens to post comments on their friends’ posts (90% vs. 80%) and both white and black teens are more likely than Latino teens to post status updates (among social media using teens 90% of whites, 84% of blacks, and 70% of Latinos do this).