2024's Social Media and Smartphone Trends: The Kiplinger Letter

To see the future of social media, look at what apps teens are using. Plus, predictions on smartphone trends.

To help you understand what's happening in social media and mobile technology and what we expect to happen in the future, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You'll get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many (but not all) of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

Social media trends
To see the future of social media, look at what apps teens are using most — YouTube dominates. The video-sharing behemoth, owned by Alphabet (aka Google), has many aspects of a social site, including the ability to follow, comment and share, with 93% of 13- to 17-year-olds saying they use the site, per a recent survey by Pew Research.

TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are also very popular with teens, with 60% or so saying they use the sites. China’s Bytedance owns TikTok, with restrictions or outright bans being mulled by the feds and states. Facebook owner Meta owns Instagram, and its popularity with youngsters has lifted the parent company. 

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But dominance can be fleeting. Consider how many teens ditched Facebook — 71% of teens reported using Facebook in 2014-15, versus just 33% this year. X, formerly Twitter, is only used by 20% of teens, a bad sign for its future as it grapples with huge debt, rising competition and a relatively small user base.

Mobile hardware
Take note of two smartphone categories that are set to see solid growth this year: 

1. Refurbished models
Refurbished will grow as a category as buyers look for cheaper options versus new models. Apple and Samsung will boost efforts to sell more of the devices, that are cleaned up, both the software and hardware. Other top sellers are Back Market, eBay, and Amazon. Better offers for trade-in phones are likely as the competition heats up for inventory.

2. Foldable devices
These phones will steadily climb in sales, though the total share of the overall smartphone market remains tiny. Over half of foldable phone users switch back to a conventional device when choosing to upgrade, a lingering challenge for the technology. But there are exciting new models from Samsung, such as the Galaxy Z Fold5 and Flip5 Flip Phone and from Google, with its Pixel Fold, as well as from others.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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John Miley
Senior Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

John Miley is a Senior Associate Editor at The Kiplinger Letter. He mainly covers technology, telecom and education, but will jump on other important business topics as needed. In his role, he provides timely forecasts about emerging technologies, business trends and government regulations. He also edits stories for the weekly publication and has written and edited e-mail newsletters.

He joined Kiplinger in August 2010 as a reporter for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, where he wrote stories, fact-checked articles and researched investing data. After two years at the magazine, he moved to the Letter, where he has been for the last decade. He holds a BA from Bates College and a master’s degree in magazine journalism from Northwestern University, where he specialized in business reporting. An avid runner and a former decathlete, he has written about fitness and competed in triathlons.