TikTok is emerging as a significant threat to YouTube and Instagram as children and teens abandon the two most popular video-sharing platforms

A little over a year ago, we wrote a story about how social media app TikTok is taking teens by storm and making Snap and Facebook nervous. TikTok was developed and owned by China-based company ByteDance. Originally released in 2014, the app is a hit among teens. It became become popular enough to catch the attention of Facebook and Snap. It’s secret, however, is the the audio that goes with the videos.

Back in February 2019, TikTok reported 500 million monthly active users across the globe. In the U.S., it ranked No. 3 on Apple’s list of top free apps, trailing only Facebook’s Instagram and Google’s YouTube. The app was on fire towards the end of 2019 after it crossed the 1.5 billion threshold in November 2019. According to Sensor Tower stats, TikTok was downloaded over 738 million times globally in 2019. This is a significant increase on the 655 million downloads recorded in 2018.

Now, it seems Facebook and YouTube are right to be nervous. TikTok is emerging as a significant threat to YouTube and Instagram as children and teens abandon the two most popular video-sharing platforms and  spend more time on the the app. According to a new study by Qustodio, an independent digital safety and wellbeing firm, they found that kids aged 4 to 15 years were spending an average 80 minutes a day on TikTok, compared to 85 minutes on YouTube. The report, which is based on the data from 60,000 families, also found that TiKTok drove social app usage by 100% between 2019 and 200% in 2020.

According to the study, TikTok use increased during the Covid-19 pandemic making it the social video platform of choice for most young people. Although the content they offer is different to what can be found on YouTube, there is still significant overlap and TikTok is increasingly a direct competitor.

Study highlights:

  • YouTube is the still king of online video for kids ages 4 to 15, despite being for 13+. (But for how long? TikTok & Netflix are on the rise)
  • TikTok is taking over social media. It drove the growth of social app use by 100% in 2019 and 200% in 2020. On average kids now spend 80 minutes a day on TikTok.
  • In the U.S., TikTok usage more than doubled to 82 minutes a day in February from 38 minutes in May last year.
  • March and April were also the months that officially crowned TikTok as king of social media with the highest percentage of kids using the app across all three markets. TikTok also rivaled YouTube as the app where children spend the most time per day
  • TikTok is emerging as a significant threat to YouTube among children who spend more time with online media. Kids ages 4 to 15 spend an average of 80 minutes a day on TikTok, compared with 85 minutes a day watching videos on YouTube.
  • TikTok boosted social media usage among children 200% this year, as COVID-19 lockdowns led kids to replace hours that were once spent at school with more screen time at home.
  • Instagram is the most popular social media app in the U.S., even though its daily usage was less than TikTok’s at about 50 minutes a day in February, up 25% from 40 minutes in May 2019. About 20% of U.S. children use Instagram, ahead of TikTok (17%), Snapchat (16%), Facebook (14%), Pinterest (8.1%), Twitter (3.7%) and Houseparty (3.6%).