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On social media and generational gap

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On social media and generational gap

Social media has made it so easy to connect to one another from almost anywhere on the globe. For some people it now serves as their primary way to communicate with the outside world. Social media apps then have to continue to adapt along the changing demands and trends among user base for ease of use and new ways to communicate. Email (though debatable) can be established as the beginning of social media in 1971 – with its primary function to connect to people via simple one way delivery of text based messages. Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s with the ability to connect users via online chatting, board rooms, and even video games. Fast forward to today and we see notable social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and so on with their own set of features and quirks to appeal to different target audiences.

In this article we will focus on investigating generational gaps on social media apps and whether they exist or not. We will attempt to answer questions such as ‘Is Facebook the retirement home among social media giants?’ and ‘Which social media app has the highest generational diversity?’

Before we dive into the data, let’s establish our sample and metrics.

We are going to use a random sample of over a million unique data subjects with their app use measured and compiled for March 2023. There are two ways to measure app use. ‘Top app’ is the mobile app used the most by the data subject in a month. One variation is based on app hits and frequency per day – aggregated in a month. Another version of top app is based on data use or data burned.

A hypothetical user may use Youtube for about 10 minutes – watching a FHD or 4k video in one sitting. Assuming similar daily use over a month, this hypothetical user is likely to have Youtube as Top app by data use, but less likely to have YouTube as top app by app hits (since he is only using YouTube 10 minutes per day and assumed to be using other social media app for hours on end).


With this out of the way, let’s chart our data.


Top app by app hits among 19 years old and below shows Facebook clearly dominating the market with almost 100% of users using Facebook as top app as of March 2023. TikTok which is what we often associate younger generation is 5th in the list at 0.2%.  


Among 80 year olds and above, we see a similar trend with Facebook being the number 1 app. iTunes is now 2nd, and GCash at 5th place.


Facebook is the most popular social media app in the Philippines. According to an SWS survey conducted on the first quarter of 2019, 99% of adult Filipino internet users own a Facebook account.


GCash is the most used FinTech app in the Philippines.

Facebook is the most popular social media app in the Philippines. According to an SWS survey conducted on the first quarter of 2019, 99% of adult Filipino internet users own a Facebook account.

Not only is Facebook the most popular social media app, it is also the most used according to a survey published by Statista as per 3rd quarter of 2022.


Generational gap

Most of the popular apps we used today started way back. Facebook started in 2004, Messenger was originally ‘Facebook chat’ developed in 2008, Instagram was released in 2010, Twitter in 2006, Youtube in 2005 – you get the point.

As these apps grow, its users also grow with them. One of the challenges then for any app developer hoping to expand its user base is to keep its service relevant for their aging users while still being fresh and appealing enough for their younger audiences. History tells us that once the coming generation finds the app ‘uncool’ and moves on to something else, the app goes into survival mode and becomes obsolete – remember Friendster? MySpace? Meanwhile, an ample share of user base from more matured demographic provides a reliable and consistent level of interactivity and engagement for the app as older generation are less likely to switch apps once they settled. This interplay between keeping the older users while maintaining an air of relevancy and charm for younger users, is at the heart of these social media industries’ business model.


Let’s look at how they are performing by using Inquiro’s data

There is a clear trend in the distribution of users using Facebook as their top app – contradicting our preconception that younger generations are no longer using Facebook. Note that this data represents top app of users based on app hits and active days in a month.

Data supports that Facebook is still widely popular in the Philippines as the average percentage of users with Facebook as their top app is around 95% – similar result with the study published by Statista.

Now let’s look at the data when we change our measure to usage or data burned.


We see an expected distribution among age groups – with middle age individuals consuming a lot more data on Facebook than other apps.

At first glance it would seem as if the two previous plots are contradicting each other. A closer inspection reveals 3 things;

  1. Younger generation are still spending a lot of time on Facebook but they are consuming less data – by watching less videos and only scrolling their feed, could be using free data.

  2. A higher percentage of middle to late adult aged individuals (30-69 yo) are using up a lot of data on Facebook than other apps compared to younger generations. This suggests that they are spending a lot of time on data dense media like watching or uploading videos/photos.

  3. We need a one number metric that combines app use by hits, frequency and data usage in a way that captures the user’s overall app usage or app engagement.

Other social media sites

In this section, we’ll explore the top apps among generations of users for other social media apps. We will be using the age groups below instead of by-10 year age range.




Instagram is a popular social media app in the Philippines. It is one of the most used apps in recent months. According to Statista, majority of Instagram users are 24 years old and below.

Inquiro data provides a more detailed view on this using top app for users.

As expected, a bigger percentage of Gen Z has Instagram as top app more than the other generations – barring the insignificant 0.1% difference for top app based on total app hits and active days in a month.



In contrast with Facebook data earlier, we can observe that the percentage of users with top app based on data usage is higher. A signal that Instagram users are more likely to use Instagram to watch reels, post pictures or videos than to just scroll through the app (more than they do on Facebook).

We see a spike for Silent Generation which could be attributed to phone sharing within households.



As per TikTok, the data suggest that TikTok is not the most used app by frequency and app activity across all age groups. 0.1% difference is insignificant and so we cannot compare among generations as per total app hits and active days in a month.

Based on data usage, Gen Z has TikTok as top app more than other age groups. This could be based on younger users actually uploading content on the app, compared to mostly lurkers from older app users.

We see a spike for Silent Generation which could be attributed to phone sharing within households.



Twitter has the most unique top app data among the apps we investigated here. It ranks very low on both top app by app hits and data usage. There is also a very small gap between each generation.



Twitter has a good case for the most diverse social media platform based on the share of users.


Take aways

Stacking the top social media apps across generations reveals the huge gap between generations. 99% of Gen Z uses the top 5 most popular apps, dropping every generation with Silent Gen at 94%.



  • Facebook is still the leading social media platform in the Philippines, albeit there is a clear decreasing trend on frequency of usage across generations.

  • There is a clear trend for YouTube being top app for older users.

  • This is the opposite for Instagram whose users are mostly Gen Z.

  • Twitter is the least popular among these otherwise ubiquitous apps while also having the least generational gap for users.


Philippines is one of the most active users of social media in the world, and with this, generational gap on popular social media platforms has a huge factor in understanding the behavior of its people in the present, and the future. And right now, social media is where conversations and discussions take place, it is important to know where your customers are having these conversations.

Want to know more about your customers?  Email us at info@inquiro.ph.

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