The Social Media Habits of College Students Vary by Age

Topics: Millennials + Gen Z, Digital Media, Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

While most college students today are members of Generation Z, millennials are still heavily represented. While these neighboring cohorts have similar digital media preferences, there are some important differences for marketers to keep in mind. Explore the social media habits of college students by generation to maximize your campus marketing campaign results.

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Which social media platforms do college students use?

A recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found the following: 

  • YouTube and Facebook continue to dominate the online landscape. Majorities of all age groups use these platforms.
  • The vast majority of adults under the age of 65 use YouTube, including 93% of those 18 to 29 and 92% of those 30 to 49. 
  • 67% of those ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, and 75% of those ages 30 to 49.
  • Certain platforms, particularly Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, have an especially strong following among young adults ages 18 to 29.
  • Americans ages 30 to 49 stand out for using three platforms – LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Facebook – at higher rates. 


MSSmedia Social Media Behavior




How do college students use social media platforms?

While millennials and Gen Z have similar social media habits, there are some differences in the amount of time they spend on these platforms and how they use them.



"The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight."



  • Millennials spend an average of 3.8 hours a day on social media while Gen Z is spending almost 4.5 hours a day on these sites.
  • More millennials consider social media to be an essential part of their lives than any other age group.
  • Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to be following small business and big brands, while Gen Z is more likely to be consuming (and spreading) social media trends and viral content.
  • 41% of Gen Z say that the main reason they visit social media platforms is entertaining content, while millennials are mainly heading to social media to keep up with friends and family. 
  • About three-quarters of adults under 30 use at least five social media platforms. This is far higher than those ages 30 to 49.
  • Gen Z prefers brands that prioritize direct engagement over sheer content volume.
  • Gen Z consumers are more apprehensive than millennials about brands utilizing AI in their social media interactions. Their primary concerns revolve around the potential for  poorer customer service, diminished authenticity and reduced human interaction.
  • Like their Gen Z counterparts, millennials appreciate brands that prioritize customer responsiveness. However, they place a higher value on brands creating original content than on direct engagement.




Social media marketing is essential for college students of all ages.

Regardless of the ways in which the social media habits of college students vary by age, there’s no denying that social media has solidified its role as an information, entertainment, and connection source for these demographics. With this in mind, it’s easy to see the importance of  including social media marketing in your campus advertising efforts.



Social Media Habits of College Students by Platform: YouTube

Social Media Habits of College Students by Platform: Facebook

Social Media Habits of College Students by Platform: Instagram

Social Media Habits of College Students by Platform: Snapchat

Social Media Habits of College Students by Platform: TikTok


See our complete guide to advertising to university students.




Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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