The top 100 popular topics Americans learn about on Social Media

Between concerns about too much screen time, misinformation, and potentially negative influences, social media gets a bad rap. But for a growing majority of Americans, these platforms are tools for knowledge and learning.

To find out more, a recent survey by Preply, an online language-learning marketplace, assessed almost 1,000 Americans on their experiences of and preferences for what they learn online. From picking up a fun recipe to mastering a new language, it seems that social media is fast becoming America’s favorite classroom.

Top 5 most useful topics Americans learn about on social media

Whether it’s taking control of your health or spicing up your home-cooked meals, social media is bursting with practical knowledge for everyday needs.

Of all the topics we want to learn about, health and wellness sits at the top of the list, with an impressive 80% of users turning to their feeds for advice on fitness, nutrition, and their general well-being. The positive impact is tangible—77% attest to seeing improvements in their health as a result of their social media education.

Cooking and baking isn’t far behind, with 78% of users heading to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest for culinary tips. And must-try recipes, like those incredibly fluffy Japanese souffle pancakes or Alison Roman’s shallot pasta, go viral all the time, motivating social media scrollers to recreate them in the kitchen.

If you’re into tech, there’s no better place to look for the latest and best gear than social media, according to 72% of users. It’s about more than just brushing up on the hottest trends—digital platforms provide quick access to technology bloggers, trend reports, gadget reviews, and step-by-step DIY tech guides.

Given that advancements in tech happen at lightning speeds, social media serves as a way to keep pace with new apps, software updates, and even complex digital skills like coding.

Likewise, the world of finance, often seen as complex and intimidating, is becoming more approachable thanks to accessible content on social media. Because of this access, 64% of users are tuning into personal finance influencers and practical investment tips or following discussions around cryptocurrency and stock movements. It’s easier than ever to gain financial literacy and learn strategies to manage your money.

Finally, at a significant 63%, social media helps users learn about different cultures. Any platform we use instantly connects us with people all over the world. Seeing a profile from an influencer in Ghana or Switzerland provides an often very personal window into another culture that the average person might never get otherwise.

From virtual tours of UNESCO world heritage sites to live conversations with folks halfway across the globe, social media users can gain a deep appreciation for cultural diversity.

Top 5 platforms Americans lean on for knowledge

Leading the online learning pack, Reddit has emerged as the preferred choice for 32% of American users. The usefulness of Reddit is its democratic approach to knowledge sharing: Almost any topic you can think of has a thread with insights from rookies and veterans alike.

Not too far behind is TikTok, the go-to resource for 21% of users who love its bite-sized instructional videos. The rise of this platform highlights the preferences of the TikTok generation, who want fast-paced, visually engaging, and interactive learning.
Despite their longevity, Facebook (19%) and Instagram (14%) continue to stay relevant, offering learning experiences through dedicated groups and compelling visual content. Rounding out the top five is X/Twitter, favored by 10% of knowledge seekers for its super concise nuggets of information.

No matter where they’re scrolling, resourceful Americans spend over five hours each week learning through these platforms, with a hopeful 58% believing that social media does them more good than harm.

Top 5 specific topics Americans search for on social media

If you thought that social media was all about viral trends and celebrity gossip, think again. A whopping 90% of users rely on social media for one very necessary survival skill—cooking! Quick, easy-to-follow recipes are a hot topic on nearly every platform, providing the perfect solution for busy professionals, novice chefs, or anyone looking to shake up their meal plan with something new and delicious.

Politics are also high on the agenda, with 87% of users turning to platforms like X and Facebook to keep abreast of the latest political developments, opinions, and debates. Next up are cultural celebrations and traditions (85%) and cultural foods (84%), giving users a virtual passport to explore, appreciate, and learn from the diversity of our world.

Finally, 82% of users lean on social media for advice on how to communicate in relationships, from the personal to professional. Of those who follow online parenting advice, 57% agree that what they’ve learned has made them better parents. And people who search for career hacks say that the tips they found have helped them advance their careers.

How Americans use social media for language learning

A perhaps unexpected benefit of social media platforms is their impact on the language learning landscape. Picking up a new language is more accessible and interactive than ever before, and 1 in 4 Americans—including 34% of Gen Z, 29% of millennials, 21% of Gen X, and surprisingly 20% of baby boomers—are taking advantage.

Spanish (58%) is the most popular language to learn, followed by Japanese (28%) and French (26%). What social media offers that standard methods usually don’t is an immersive virtual experience. A significant 73% of users say they’ve been able to pick up foreign phrases just by reading or hearing them in posts.

Social media also gives users the freedom to learn at their own pace (70%), easy access to abundant resources (63%), and the ability to stay abreast of current slang (55%) that reflects how native speakers actually use their language.

The rise in social media language learning highlights a broader cultural trend. Sylvia Johnson, a language expert, observes, "This trend underscores the evolving nature of Americans’ curiosity toward embracing cultural diversity and underlines a growing trend of online intercultural education. Insight into other cultures not only broadens intellectual horizons but also fosters empathy among learners."

Johnson hits on a truly amazing point. Not only do we learn from each other in an unprecedented way—we’re also more able to understand and relate to each other, thanks to our newfound global connectedness.

Users seek cooking, politics, culture, relationships, and career advice on social media, challenging traditional perceptions.

Despite pitfalls, social media emerges as a valuable educational tool, fostering cultural understanding and empathy among users.

Language learning thrives on social media, offering immersion, resources, and slang insights, catering to diverse age groups.
Final Thoughts

Is social media the perfect learning tool? No—anyone can post anything, and misinformation is pretty rampant. But as long as you’re treading carefully by checking your resources and making sure they’re accurate, it can open you up to a whole new world of knowledge.

Whether it’s finding a new recipe, brushing up on current events, or even mastering a foreign language, sometimes there’s a light at the end of that “infinite scroll.” So go ahead, embrace the digital learning treasure trove and enjoy broadening your horizons one post at a time.

Read next: New study reveals what skills Americans are focusing on learning in 2024
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