Rich kids love Instagram, but Facebook is most popular with lower-income youth

Instagram is for showing off
Instagram is for showing off
Image: Rich Kids of Instagram/Instagram
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In a digital landscape now cluttered with social media platforms and apps, how do young people choose which to use—and why? New research from the Pew Research Center suggests that their choices are influenced by socioeconomic status and combined family income.

The Pew Research Center surveyed US teens aged 13 to 17, asking them a variety of questions about their daily online habits. Not surprisingly, the study concluded that teens are almost constantly using social media: 92% of reported going online daily, and close to 25% categorized their usage as “almost constant.”

And while there has been intermittent  hysteria over the past few years about Facebook becoming uncool, the Pew Center also reported that 71% of teens continue to use it—even as the same percentage say they use more than one platform.

Here’s where wealth comes into play, according to Pew:

The survey data reveals a distinct pattern in social media use by socio-economic status. Teens from less well-off households (those earning less than $50,000) are more likely than others to say they use Facebook the most: 49% of these teens say they use it most often, compared with 37% of teens from somewhat wealthier families (those earning $50,000 or more).

Of families with a combined income of $100,000 or more, this trend becomes even more prominent, with only 6% separating the Facebook and Instagram users, at 31% and 25% respectively.

These results of course don’t show any causal reason why more money would lead to higher Instagram and Spapchat use, or vice versa. But anecdotally, Instagram seems increasingly to be a place where bragging about one’s wealth is culturally acceptably, even celebrated. This line of reasoning underpins the entire Rich Kids of Instagram phenomenon, a loose group of young social media one-percenters who revel in their ability to show just how much more money they have than you.

Of course, the big winner in all of this is still Facebook. Lest we forget, a very savvy Mark Zuckerburg acquired Instagram in 2012. Facebook’s strategy seems to be, even if you can beat them, it’s probably a smart business move to join them anyway. If the results of this latest study are any indication, the social network behemoth’s strategy is continuing to pay off.