2021 Social Media Report: Which Apps Can’t Americans Live Without?


Trevor Wheelwright
Researcher & Writer
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Published on May 17, 2021

Ranking social media apps by America’s preferences in 2021

Throughout the pandemic, social media has been a solace for many isolated Americans. But social media can be detrimental to our mental health (particularly with anxiety and depression).1

Our recent survey shows that Americans have a love-hate relationship with Facebook—and the rest of the big social media platforms—and they’re more willing to (temporarily) delete apps than to quit cold turkey.

Facebook dominates social media use in 2021

According to our survey, Americans use Facebook far more than other social media platforms—more than twice as much as Pinterest, TikTok, and Reddit.

Instagram follows Facebook for the most used platform (or rather “tags along” since Facebook owns Instagram). YouTube and Twitter also have over half of America logging in.

According to our survey, Facebook is the most used social media platform and the most beloved and hated. But people’s sentiments toward each social media platform related to how much time they spend on the platform.

  • Facebook and Instagram take the lion’s share of most positive and negative sentiments, which correlates with their popularity.
  • YouTube stands out as a more positive platform that can help with learning. 
  • TikTok appears to have more negative effects on productivity and self-esteem. (It’s also the app most likely to be deleted forever.) 
  • Twitter produces a fair amount of anxiety and pressure over keeping up with its content, which makes it a prime candidate for people to delete (possibly forever).

Facebook ranks highest as the most time-consuming app and also the most likely to be deleted. But since you can always reinstall an app, we asked which social media platform respondents could live without. Out of any app, most people said they would delete TikTok forever.

Not all social media use is negative: 70% of respondents reported social media made them feel more connected versus isolated. And we connect to more people than just our family and friends online.

Three of four respondents follow influencers on social media. More than 63% of Americans either bought something based on recommendations or followed the advice of influencers.

Over half of respondents have taken a digital detox, but less than half use time limits on their cell phones. As many as 44% of our respondents have not taken a social media break over the past year.

Ultimately, social media has both positive and negative effects on our mental health. And, depending on which platform you spend the most time with, you’ll likely feel those effects in greater extremes when you’re feeling stressed about other things (like a global pandemic, for example). Take some time to log off, go outside, and refresh your mind.

Methodology

On April 21, 2021, we conducted a Pollfish survey among a national sample of 1,000 adults who were 18 years of age or older and living among all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.

The survey asked respondents about their social media activity, preferences, and experiences across a variety of popular platforms.

This content was produced by Satelliteinternet.com and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Clubhouse, Reddit, or YouTube.

Sources

1. Cureus, Fazida Karim, Azeezat A Oyewande, Lamis F Abdalla, Reem Chaudhry Ehsanullah, and Safeera Khan, "Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review," Published June 15, 2020.

Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright