The results of Forrester’s Youth Survey, 2023, are in. This annual survey examines consumer and online behaviors of US teens 12–17 years old.

Weekly TikTok Usage Peaked In 2022 Yet Placed First With US Teens In 2023

Two years ago, we reported that weekly usage of TikTok had surpassed Instagram among US teens — with 63% using TikTok and 57% using Instagram (at least weekly) in 2021. Although that trend continued into 2023, TikTok weekly usage slightly dipped from 2022 (69%) to 2023 (68%) while Instagram weekly usage grew close to its pre-pandemic levels of 63%.

But despite TikTok’s 1-point dip, it managed to (for the first time) surpass weekly usage of (core) YouTube, which dropped 3 points, year over year, to 66% among US teens. This makes TikTok the most used “social media” platform by US teens in 2023 — topping BeReal, Facebook, Instagram, Lemon8, Snapchat, and (now) YouTube.

In Short-Form Video, TikTok Still Reigns Supreme While Reels Gains Steam

Year over year, Instagram Reels saw an 11-point increase: Nearly a third (30%) of US teens now use Reels at least weekly. Half that number (15%) use YouTube Shorts, which saw a 6-point year-over-year increase in weekly usage. Still, both of these short-form video platforms have a long way to go to cut into TikTok’s dominating market share. But there’s one caveat …

Unlike TikTok, which launched as a singular short-form video app, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts are essentially features and formats of their larger anchor apps (Instagram and YouTube, respectively). By increasingly blending into their app’s UIs, users will decreasingly distinguish Reels from Instagram and Shorts from YouTube. This means TikTok isn’t competing with Reels and Shorts. Instead, TikTok is really competing against Instagram and YouTube — which may be why the company is testing long-form video.

Meta Can Thank AI (And Reels) For Instagram’s Momentum In 2023

Last week, during Meta’s Q3 earnings report, Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Reels has driven a “more than” 40% increase in time spent on Instagram. Like it or not, Reels has become a dominant part of the core Instagram app experience. Powering Reels is, of course, Meta’s AI-based recommendation engine. While users initially pushed back when Instagram doubled down on its algorithmic feed, there’s no doubt that it’s been a driving force for Reels discovery and engagement. We expect this momentum to continue into 2024, when we predict that “big media” will get its mojo back.

Forrester clients: Want to dive into our full Youth Survey data set? Schedule a Forrester guidance session and let’s chat!