Oct 6, 2021

Under 16s spend up to 600 hours per year on Instagram

Qustodio team

Qustodio team

Experts in digital safety

Tips to help your child stay safe during the back to school period

The end of 2021 welcomed Instagram’s 11th birthday, along with its worst technical hitch to date: for over six hours, Instagram was offline all around the world, with no way for users to interact with the platform or its partner apps, Facebook and WhatsApp. Those six hours might have seemed an eternity for Instagram’s most frequent users: many of which are teenagers and young adults. 

The origins of Instagram

Launched officially in 2010, exclusively for iPhone, Instagram managed to recruit a massive 1 million users in its first two months alone. Instagram’s user count now stands at over 1 billion worldwide, according to Statista. The Instagram so many have come to know and love nowadays was, in fact, completely different at its original launch, down to its name, Burbn. Burbn’s original function was similar to that of FourSquare – as a tracking app where users could check in to places they were visiting. 

Shortly after its launch, however, creators Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger noticed that what the app’s users were really interested in were the photos that they were uploading in the places they’d visited. Burbn hit the dust, and, taking its inspiration from the words “instant” and “telegram”,  Instagram was born. The new-feel app allowed users to upload photos to the platform with somewhat of a nostalgic twist: square-shaped images which recalled the days of the Polaroid.

How are teenagers using Instagram? A year in figures

To coincide with Instagram’s 11th anniversary, Qustodio analysed insights collected between September 2020 and September 2021 – looking at the app’s usage in under 16s for a whole year across the USA, Spain, and the United Kingdom. 

Instagram’s popularity among teens

Social media apps experienced a 76% growth amongst younger users in 2020. 2020 was a big year for social media: TikTok, for the very first time, overtook Instagram as the most popular social media platform for younger users.

While, according to our insights from teens and young people, Instagram fell to second position overall, it experienced significant growth in terms of overall usage. On average, it experienced a 25% growth in users: Spain leading the pack with a user increase of 41%, followed by the United Kingdom at 27%. While growth was not as strong among younger users in the USA, Instagram still experienced an 11% growth in the country from September 2020 to 2021: the total number of younger users in the USA is four times as large as in Spain. 

How much time teens spend on Instagram

Globally, younger people spent 16% more time on Instagram than the previous year: an increase of 8 minutes overall, moving from an average of 50 minutes daily to 58 minutes each day. 

Again, Spain takes the lead for time spent on the platform, with Instagram’s younger users clocking up a total of 36,500 minutes a year on Instagram – a total which translates to over 608 hours of scrolling. The insights we gathered showed that young people in Spain spent an average of 100 minutes a day on Instagram in September 2021, compared to 69 minutes in the same month of 2020, representing an increase of 45% in time spent on the app. Younger people in the UK are also spending more time on the app, increasing their 41 minutes a day to an average of 46 daily. In contrast, younger users in the USA are spending less time on Instagram, with total average use falling by 6%, from 48 minutes a day to just 45.

How parents react to Instagram

Fame and popularity come at a cost, and for the younger generation of Instagram users, this translates to preoccupied parents. In reaction to the increased time children spent on Instagram, blocking of the app has surged by 25% on average. This makes it the third most-blocked app globally, falling behind TikTok (54%) and Facebook (27.5%). 

Country by country, Instagram is the second most “popular” app for families to block in Spain, with the data from 2020 and 2021 demonstrating a 48% increase: a figure significantly higher than those of the United Kingdom and the United States, at 21% and 10% respectively. 

“Since its conception, Instagram has been in a state of constant evolution, evolving from an app allowing users to simply show where they’d been, to a space where users can now share, create, do business, and even forge a career,” states Eduardo Cruz, CEO and co-founder of Qustodio. “Now, Instagram’s great challenge is to take on TikTok, and meet the increasingly high expectations of Generation Z and Alpha.”