Young People Have This Many Social Media Accounts, But We’re Definitely Not Using All Of Them

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Before I get out of bed most mornings, I scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I'll even check my email if I'm feeling ambitious. I'm always suffering from FOMO, so I insist on looking at every Instagram post I may have missed while asleep. But even checking three websites makes me want to go back to bed, so a new report about the state of social media around the world left me surprised. According to the study, young people have 8.7 social media accounts, on average. Global Web Index, the group behind the study, surveyed over 350,000 people between 16 and 64 years old through an online questionnaire about their digital lives, and respondents had a whopping 42 social media networks to choose from. That means millennials are on roughly one in five social media networks.

I thought that nine social media accounts seemed like a ridiculous average, but then I started thinking about all of the websites I have accounts on. Of course, there's the big three — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — but I'm also somewhat active on LinkedIn. I used Pinterest to plan my entire wedding, and I made a Google+ account back in 2011 and never got around to deleting it. I have an account on Reddit to find funny memes, and my high school Tumblr blog is still online. I don't use Snapchat, but I never deleted the app, and WhatsApp is useful for talking to family members who live overseas. By the time I added up all the social networks I'd forgotten about, I realized I have 12 social media accounts.

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The average person between 16 and 34 years old has roughly nine accounts, while 35- to 44-year-olds have about seven accounts. By the time you're 55 or older, you'll have five accounts or less, on average.

According to the report, the average person who has multiple devices uses about eight accounts, regardless of age. In 2013, that number was only four, so our social media usage has grown pretty rapidly since then. But we may plateau at our current usage, according to the study.  

"Digital consumers have an average of eight social media accounts, using each one for different networking behaviors," the report says. "That said, we may soon reach peak multi-networking; 2017 was the first year we observed no appreciable growth in the average number of social media accounts per internet user."

The study also found that the average person spends over two hours a day on social media, and cellphones are the go-to way to access your favorite social networks. People who only use their cellphones to get online also have fewer social media accounts, according to the research.

"Smartphones are facilitating on-the-go social engagement, with many dipping into different platforms throughout their day," the report says.

Also pretty interesting: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are the top ways to communicate with other people, with over half of all people surveyed using one of the messaging apps. Facebook and Facebook-owned platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp dominate the social media field, with nearly everyone having an account on Facebook or one of its services. Only 6 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds don't use Facebook, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram.

This study definitely provides an opportunity to take a walk down memory lane, but it also could be a reminder to lock down any accounts you've forgotten about. I'm feeling a bit nostalgic after looking at my forgotten Tumblr, but I'm also embarrassed that it's been public this whole time and I had no idea. Try Googling your name to see what comes up if you aren't sure what sites you have accounts on — it's probably more than you think.