What Internet Speed Do I Need for Streaming?

Trevor Wheelwright
Feb 08, 2022
Icon Time To Read8 min read

Social media is everywhere. It’s on our phones, tablets, and computers; we see it cited in the news, and our friends and family use it to post about their vacations or over-sized desserts. But how ingrained are these apps in our lives? Is it just recent generations, or do older Americans also whittle away the hours on YouTube? And which apps are the most popular?

We asked 1,000 Americans questions about their social media habits and found fascinating trends in where Gen Z and Millennials could take social media. The stand-out fact for all the marketers and influencers out there: Video killed the social media star (aka video is king). YouTube is the most popular social media app, with over 70% of all age groups using it, proving that video content is really universally appealing.

But with YouTube being the only platform to enjoy near-universal acclaim, where do the rest of the apps line up?

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What’s old is new again: YouTube and Facebook rank as favorites

Remember the YouTube Rewind videos that launched in 2010? The series was a look back on the popular videos and what people watched in the previous year—from “Charlie Bit My Finger” to “Gangnam Style.”

Well, it looks like we’ll see another big Rewind in 2023 because YouTube dominated in our survey. YouTube is the most popular social media app, with over 70% of people of every age watching videos.

  • YouTube was the second most popular social media app, with a cumulative 72% respondent usage.
  • To ensure your internet speed is fast enough for streaming video across multiple devices and users, you’ll need anywhere from 3 to 25Mbps of dedicated internet speed.

Facebook is the most widely used social media app, particularly among Millennial and Gen X respondents. In total, 73% of Americans use Facebook—it may not be the most widely checked, but it is still very popular.

  • It probably helps that 32% of respondents ranked Facebook as the most addictive social media platform.
  • That percentage puts Facebook in the #1 spot and almost 10% ahead of TikTok, which came in at #2 with 23% of respondents.
graphic saying that americans are addicted to comments, likes, and followers

Rounding out the top five with YouTube and Facebook for most used and most addictive are TikTok, Instagram, and X, formerly known as Twitter.

  • Instagram is the third most-used platform according to 54% of respondents, while TikTok only had 43% of the vote, and X takes 35%.
  • On the addictive side, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and YouTube are the only platforms to hit double digits.
  • TikTok is the second-most addictive, according to 23% of respondents, while YouTube hit 19% and Instagram ekes out 10%. X, formerly known as Twitter, rounds out the top five with 5%.

It’s not surprising to see X, formerly known as Twitter, at the bottom of the top five. The platform’s adoption rates are lower across all generations, suggesting it may not be as universally favored as other platforms.

Although it ranks towards the middle of the pack, Reddit’s niche audience shows that its users are dedicated. Sure, it may not be the most addictive or the most popular, but people use it.

  • The platform came in at #9 as the most-used app (only 19% of respondents), well behind Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.
  • Respondents also don't think it's very addictive—only 2% find it addictive, putting it at #7 overall.

Pinterest also maintains popular appeal, with a consistent user base across generations. Members of all age groups who want a break from videos and scrolling may appreciate the content curation and visual focus.

  • Pinterest is also in the middle of the pack, coming in at #7, with 32% of respondents saying they use it.
  • Surprisingly, it’s also fairly addictive! Coming in right behind X with 2%, Pinterest ranks #6 for most addictive platforms.

Remember Threads? The platform is Meta’s answer to Twitter, and after a high number of sign-ups, adoption is slow going. It ranks towards the bottom among most-used social media apps (#10 with 7% of respondents), and it is not addictive at all.

  • We found that Threads has relatively low usage across all generations, indicating that it may not have gained mainstream popularity.

The other three major social media platforms—Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Tumblr—have a more limited appeal and reach.

  • Tumblr is the least-used social media app and one of the least addictive apps. LinkedIn is primarily used by people looking for a job or networking opportunities.
  • And while Snapchat is popular among Gen Z, almost no Boomers use it.

Check out our full run-down of age group stats for more on the generational divide.

Americans spend over 2 hours each day on social media

Remember how Facebook was the most addictive social media platform? Turns out, Americans only spend about an hour a day on Facebook—nearly 45 minutes less than TikTok and Tumblr!

  • Americans reported spending an average of 2 hours and 44 minutes on TikTok each day.
  • Honestly, we get it. Scrolling is fun, and we can lose hours to the algorithm.

Americans reported spending an average of two hours or more on only four platforms:

  • TikTok: 2 hours, 44 minutes
  • Tumblr: 2 hours, 41 minutes
  • YouTube: 2 hours, 35 minutes
  • Facebook: 2 hours, 2 minutes
graphic showing stats for social media usage

Surprisingly, Threads has a dedicated user base! That’s right—the upstart Twitter rival from Meta has more average screen time minutes than Twitter itself.

  • Americans reported spending an average of 1 hour, 56 minutes on Threads per day, compared with 1 hour, 38 minutes on X, formerly known as Twitter.
  • App checks are also a big for Threads users, with respondents reporting opening the app 3.6 times per hour. That’s compared with Twitter open rates at only 2.2 per hour.

Nearly a quarter of Americans (24%) spend more than three hours daily on social media.

  • Only 14% of Americans spend less than 30 minutes each day on social media.
  • The vast majority of respondents (57%) reported spending between 30 minutes to three hours online.

But the average American? They spend around 2 hours, 25 minutes each day—or about as long as some Americans spend on YouTube.

Why so long? Probably because of all the app checks. Between 11 social media apps, Americans reported opening them an average of 2.5 times per hour.

  • With Threads, TikTok, and Tumblr being the top three most opened apps per hour, and TikTok and Tumblr averaging over 2 hours and 42 minutes per day per user, that time adds up!

Everyone uses social media to share updates and maintain connections

Looking across generational lines at social media use, we found that almost every generation uses social media for sharing updates and staying connected with friends and family.

  • Only Gen Z ranks entertainment and leisure as their primary use for social media.
  • In fact, every generation except Gen Z reported over 40% saying sharing updates and staying connected is their primary purpose for social media use.

But what else are people using social media for? We asked and found that the other top uses of social media include:

  • Following news and current events.
  • Networking and professional purposes.
  • Seeking inspiration and creative content.

As we’ll see later on, many people use social media for news, with Gen X engaging the most compared to other generations.

But where do most generations spend their time online? Like our most popular apps, it’s a cross between Facebook and YouTube.

  • While both are very popular, neither has runaway success. Facebook has over 78% usage from Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, while Gen Z is under 60%.
  • On the flip side, YouTube averages 77% usage among Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X but only around 54% of Boomers use it.

We found that Facebook is declining among younger generations, with its usage dropping significantly with Gen Z and Millennials, indicating a shift away from this platform among younger users.

The other top apps are divided among generational lines:

  • TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are finding dominance among Gen Z and Millennials, with 70% of Gen Z using TikTok; Snapchat averaging 63% with Gen Z; and an average of 72% of Gen Z and Millennials using Instagram.
  • LinkedIn has found its niche with the business-focused crowd: Gen X and Boomers—averaging 24% across those generations.
  • Pinterest and X, formerly Twitter, hold steady in the middle of the pack for all generations. Millennials and Gen X are more interested in Pinterest while Gen Z prefers X.
  • Tumblr is facing a decline among generations. While it’s still popular with Gen Z, it holds a measly 13%, which puts it only above Threads.

Each age group engages with technology and social media differently, displaying a clear difference in preferences for apps. But entertainment and connection are key, as we can see with the top platform choices across generations: Facebook and YouTube.

Where do we go for public opinions?

When it comes to influential apps, Facebook and YouTube once again rank at the top of the list. And it’s not really surprising either—both platforms are well-known for sharing and shaping public opinion and trends.

  • Many podcasters broadcast videos of their episodes on YouTube.
  • And let’s not forget Facebook groups and posts going beyond their intended audience.

TikTok, Instagram, and X, formerly Twitter, join Facebook and YouTube at the top of the list.

At the bottom of the list were Threads, Tumblr, and, surprisingly, LinkedIn.

  • Many people on LinkedIn are “thought leaders,” but it seems like their opinions stay with the business crowd only.
  • Reddit comes in just above LinkedIn, which might be surprising considering how many BuzzFeed articles are based on AskReddit questions.

While Facebook was the only platform that was the most influential in shaping public opinion and trends, most people don’t use it for their news content.

X, formerly Twitter, is the most relied on for news content, while Pinterest is the least relied upon.

  • Both make sense considering Twitter was known as the internet’s town square, and breaking news stories would develop on-site, while Pinterest is known for its catalog of ideas.

Besides X, most Americans don’t rely on social media apps for news.

  • The other top surveyed apps include TikTok, YouTube, Threads, and Reddit.
  • On the other side of news we have LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram, and Reddit.

When looking at social media apps and news, X is at the top of the list. It’s almost a total reversal of popular apps since now YouTube and Facebook are in the middle of the pack. But even if apps aren’t relied on for news, their impact isn’t negligible.

The impact of social media is not black-and-white

How does social media impact our everyday lives? Honestly, the overwhelming viewpoint may be negative—with some caveats.

graphic showing statistics for separate social media accounts

Half of Americans surveyed reported that excessive social media use leads to negative effects on their mental health and well-being.

  • But a quarter of respondents also said they feel “happy and satisfied” after using social media for an extended period of time. So, social media usage is not as black-and-white as we think.
  • And 60% of respondents said that social media has not had a significant impact on their relationships and social interactions—either positive or negative.

But many Americans feel the pressure when online—in fact, a reported 11% feel anxious or stressed. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one big culprit is a fear of missing out (FOMO) and a pressure to maintain a persona online.

  • Nearly a quarter of Americans (23%) feel pressure to curate and maintain a certain image or persona online.
  • And 15% reported that social media has had a “significant negative impact” on their relationships and social interactions.
  • And 36% of Americans found themselves comparing their life or achievements to what other people had posted on social media, which is not a good thing.

Although we may think that social media is harmful—and it definitely can be—a lot of Americans find that the negative effects are balanced by positive outcomes.

  • In fact, 24% of Americans experience FOMO and anxiety when they can’t access or use social media, which is not a great sign. (In general, only 3% of Americans experience FOMO after using social media and 5% feel isolated or lonely.)
  • Granted, this is not the same for everyone and there is documentation on the negative effects of social media.
graphic showing statistics about social media fakeness

26% of Americans found that social media platforms contributed positively to their social connections and relationships.

  • And let’s not forget the 25% of Americans who reported feeling “happy and satisfied” after using social media.
  • Another 13% of respondents said they were “productive and informed,” which may be because so many Americans get their news from social media.

Many Americans express feelings of indifference after social media use. Over a quarter of Americans (27%) reported that, and it’s helpful to know that there are shades of gray in social media usage.

  • Some people may feel negative, others feel positive, and some are neutral.
  • It’s different for every person.

If you’re really feeling like you need a break, try a digital detox.

Recap

With the most popular social media apps being Facebook and YouTube, Americans want to watch videos and connect with friends online—and many are able to! With over 2 hours and 25 minutes online per day, Americans have the opportunity to scroll through the latest TikTok trends and comment on vacation pics from friends and family.

Even with all that time online, Americans tend to stick to the same apps—Facebook and YouTube. In fact, most Americans rank Facebook and YouTube as the most influential, even though they primarily get their news from X, formerly known as Twitter.

Surely, all that time online has led Americans to feel one way or another about social media. But honestly, 27% of respondents felt indifferent after using social media, and 60% reported no significant impact on their relationships or social interactions.

For some people, though, social media is a strong positive—or negative—influence in their lives. It can be controlling and it can be powerful. And no matter how often we go online, or what we think of their content, social media apps are here to stay.

Methodology

Reviews.org surveyed 1,000 Americans 18 years and older with a margin of error of +/- 4% and a confidence level of 95%. The survey results were weighted to reflect characteristics of the United States population using available data from the U.S. census.

Trevor Wheelwright
Written by
Trevor Wheelwright
Trevor’s written about YMYL (your money, your life) topics for over six years across editorial publications and retail/eCommerce sites. His work’s been featured on Forbes, RealSimple, USA Today, MSN, BusinessInsider, Entrepreneur, PCMag, and CNN. When he’s not researching and writing, you can find him around Salt Lake City, Utah, snapping photos of mountains and architecture or seeking out some good tunes and friendly faces.

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