Is Facebook Going Out of Style with Teens?
A few years ago, Facebook was the preferred way for teens to stay in touch with friends. It seemed like if you were a teen and didn’t have Facebook, you may as well not have existed.
But then things started to change. In 2013, the number of active Facebook users in the United States dropped by 7.37% in just six months, while the number of active users in Canada dropped by 5.31% in the same period of time. This trend has even caught the attention of Facebook executives, who stated in their 10-K Report for 2012 that they have noticed that younger users may be leaving Facebook for other social networking services.
Why might Facebook be going out of style? Let’s take a closer look.
The Party Got Too Big
In the past, Facebook was only open to university students, who could only create a profile using a student email address. Then, as the earliest users started to graduate, the service expanded to include others, like working professionals and high school students as well as international users.
That meant that Facebook was now open to older people, including the parents of younger users. In 2012, the average age of Facebook users was 41 years old, up from 38 in 2010. Also for 2012, 65% of users were older than 35. Many older users also report that they only joined the site just to monitor their teen’s activity, with 72% of US moms having an active profile in 2012.
So where teens initially saw an open space where they could engage with their friends away from their parents’ supervision, they now feel that their parents have invaded their privacy. In fact, 30% of teens reported that they would unfriend their parents if they could.
What’s the Next Best Thing?
Instead of Facebook, teens are now looking to other products. Many younger users find private messaging services like Whatsapp, Kik and and Snapchat to be preferable solely because they are private, and therefore hidden from interested parents.
But while these messaging services are great for secret correspondence, teens also want to have a public forum to share photos and updates. For these needs, more and more teens are looking to sites like Instagram and Tumblr, where they can share updates and pictures in public.
Therefore, it seems that teens and younger former Facebook users are looking for the two elements of Facebook – the private and the public – in separate areas. It will be interesting to see how Facebook responds and how the site adapts.