What do the demographics on Tumblr tell us about teenagers?
According to a 2014 video created by NPR analyzing best practices for Tumblr, the demographic of male and female is split nearly in half with 51% female and 49% male (Gorman). While it’s unsure whether these numbers account for the large percentage of transgender youth who utilize the site, it shows that Tumblr is a platform suited for a wide variety of audiences. With 150M+ monthly global uniques, it’s not surprising that Tumblr has the number one level of engagement across other social platforms with an average of 16 minute spent per visit (Gorman). Part of this comes from the diverse range of content Tumblr offers because “truly no matter what you’re into there are people getting really into it on Tumblr, which is cool” (Priestman). As the article by Chris Priestman goes on to explain, “there’s a real desire to connect with other humanity about interests and they have the power to do that in a way teenagers have not had before.”
This entire website has been dedicated to studying the correlation between depression and adolescents on Tumblr. But many of the numbers don’t correlate with what appears on Tumblr, particularly within the mental health community. Jiejun Xu and team conducted a study on behavioral patterns on Tumblr where “a survey of American internet users also reveals that Tumblr is a favorite social network site for younger social media users in the age groups of 13-18 (teens) and 19-25 (young adults)” (Xu). But this study, compared with what is seen on Tumblr within the mental health community, doesn’t correlate with what other demographic studies show.
Instead, it seems that Tumblr users take advantage of the anonymous nature of Tumblr, making it hard to find accurate statistics. A video study completed by NPR showed that only 15% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 use the site, a number that doesn’t represent the site being a “favorite social network” among teenagers (see figure to the right, Gorman). In contrast, this figure shows that nearly 41% of Tumblr users self-identify as 18 to 34 years old. Again, while these numbers don’t correlate with the popularity of Tumblr among teenagers, it shows that Tumblr is a site that these teenagers will continue to utilize even when they grow into adulthood.
Part of this discrepancy could result from the site’s age restriction for making an account. Before gaining access to Tumblr, users are required to be at least 13 years old, validated through a birth date. This restriction could force teenagers on the site to consider their age (and how young there are), lying from the beginning in order to gain access to Tumblr. Overall, this could skew the age studies on Tumblr, especially when Tumblr is looked as a way to provide teens with a non-judgmental outlet to chronicle their personal journeys with depression and other mental illnesses.
Anonymity aside, Tumblr remains a popular site among teenagers. A report released by BI Intelligence (included in a Business Insider article) which shows that Tumblr has the highest level of engagement across after 13 to 25, even surpassing Facebook (see figure to left, Smith). As Smith’s article continues to explain, “Tumblr is strong with teens and young adults interested in self-expression.”
Priestman later explains the generational gap between parents and children. Parents were on Facebook so their children migrated away from that social media platforms to spaces like Instagram and SnapChat. While there’s a large percentage of people over 35 on Tumblr, it’s a realm where their parents can’t monitor their activity if they don’t have access to their children’s specific username.
Gorman, Teresa. “Tumblr’s Best Practices for Building Community and Spreading Stories.” NPR, 1 Aug 2014, http://digitalservices.npr.org/post/tumblrs-best-practices-building-community-and-spreading-stories-video
Smith, Cooper. “Tumblr Offers Advertisers A Major Advantage: Young Users, Who Spend Tons of Time on the Site.” Business Insider, 13 Dec 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/tumblr-and-social-media-demographics-2013-12
Xu, Jiejun, et al. “Rolling through Tumblr: Characterizing Behavioral Patterns of the Microblogging Platform.” WebSci’14, 2014, 13.