If you’ve been reading any tech related blogs over the past day or two, you’ve undoubtedly seen dozens of stories citing a new study from a UK academic which looked at the decreasing popularity of Facebook with teens and young adults. In the study, it is said that Facebook isn’t just losing popularity with this demographic, it is ‘dead and buried’ for them.
Hyperbole aside, there is no doubt that 13-23 year olds are moving away from Facebook, in favor of social networks like Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and others. The primary reason, it seems, is that teens and young adults see Facebook as ‘uncool’ now that their parents, and even grandparents, are on it. Teens don’t want to share their thoughts about their latest crush with their parents, so they move to other networks.
What most other news stories covering this study seem to leave out, however, is that while the amount of time teens are spending on Facebook is indeed dropping, they are still keeping their accounts fairly active. Even teens use Facebook to stay in touch with family (even parents, grandparents and their weird Uncle Steve). It can be assumed that as they get older, they will start to outgrow their aversion to being on the same network as their parents.
Most kids go through a phase where they want to distance themselves as much as possible from parents and older relatives. In most cases, kids grow up and realize that their parents aren’t so bad after all. In addition, as young adults stop doing all the ‘stupid’ things that kids do, they won’t be quite so embarrassed to post about their life on a site where their mom might see it.
While Twitter, Snapchat and others might be popular with younger people, it seems hard to imagine adults embracing these platforms over Facebook anytime soon. They are lacking any real features, and seem like more of a novelty than a real way to communicate (in the eyes of most adults anyway.)
The big question I have about all these people who preach doom and gloom for Facebook because of the fact that they are ‘losing’ the younger generation is, why should Facebook really care? Sure, it is always good to have more people on the social networks, but young teens and 20-something’s don’t have the disposable income that advertisers want. Losing a few million 14 year olds isn’t going to hurt Facebook’s bottom line.
As they grow up, these kids will slowly come back to Facebook, and all will be right with the world once again.