When Facebook was launched in 2004, the application was designed for use by college students. Teens followed suit imitating their older siblings, and eventually commercial ventures, older adults, nonprofits and just about everyone wanted a Facebook presence. But, now that the site is more commercialized and an over abundance of other social media alternatives exist, teens seem to be using Facebook less and less.
Only 88 percent of teens within the ages of 13 through 17 now use Facebook as a social network, according to a recent survey from Frank N. Magid Associates, a research firm. That is a marked decrease from the 94 percent a mere year before.
Magid’s survey was conducted in September. The firm queried 1,934 people; however, only smartphone users were polled.
Last year, Facebook’s chief financial officer acknowledged that use by younger teens had declined some, but the company dismissed concerns. Last November, the firm’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg claimed, “the vast majority of US teens are on Facebook, and the majority of US teens use Facebook almost every day.” While that may be so, repeated research has soon that young teens favor other social media sites over Facebook and usage is declining.
Facebook is still the most popular social networking site in use in English-speaking countries. In fact, there are more than 1 billion users worldwide, so the survey numbers represent a tiny fraction of the total population. However, the Frank N. Magid Associates research actually shows a drop in all age groups. Additionally, Facebook’s own behavior shows some concern on their part. The firm has diversified and acquired some applications that have shown increasing use by teens and others. Their purchases in recent years included Instagram and What’s App.
So what is the latest thing application-wise among teens? According to experts, teens tend to favor messaging apps like Twitter, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen how teen celebrities consistently top trending on Twitter lists.
The Magid report’s authors cite two reasons for Facebook’s declining usage among teen users of social media. The first is that teens have lost their trust in the social network. About 9 percent of those surveyed indicated that they believe Facebook is “trustworthy” or “safe,” versus the 30 percent who believe Pinterest. is trustworthy.
The second reason the respondents cited was the “fun factor.” When the teens surveyed were asked to compare the fun factor of the two Web sites, Pinterest was victorious again. Approximately 40 percent of survey participants described Pinterest as “fun” compared to the 18 percent who said the same for Facebook.
Younger forms of social media, such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest, may seem more fun to teens simply because they tend to be more novel and innovative than the decade old Facebook. Yes, there are things on Facebook to tag, trend and update, but teens have made a culture of using the other photo-sharing apps like games. So teens are choosing them over Facebook more and more as the years go by.
By Dyanne Weiss