The most surefire way to make teenagers disinterested in something is for their parents to adopt it, and it appears that Facebook
is having just such a problem. Facebook has finally admitted that there has been a dip in teen usage--although the company hasn’t provided any numbers.
This is a sharp turnaround from Facebook’s position on the matter in Q2, when CFO David Ebersman used the term “urban legend” to describe the assertions that teens aren’t as into Facebook as they used to be. Of course, for as fickle as kids can be and how quickly their interests shift, it’s entirely possible that a fiscal quarter ago there wasn’t a teen problem.
Instead, it seems that teenagers are gravitating toward services such as Twitter
, (Facebook-owned) Instagram
, SnapChat, and even YouTube
. However, the good news for Facebook is that teens are more likely to be diversifying their social media use as opposed to abandoning Facebook altogether.
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s study on teen Facebook use, “there were no indications in either the national survey or the focus groups of a mass exodus from Facebook”. Indeed, although teens’ use of Twitter and Instagram have skyrocketed, and use of YouTube, Tumblr, and Google+ have increased, so too did Facebook use--from 2011-2012, that is.
As of September of 2012, Pew’s research showed that a whopping 94% of teens used Facebook to some extent. A lot can change in a year’s time, especially as it pertains to both teens and social media, and solid research just takes time to complete, analyze, and publish, so the next set of numbers may show something quite different.
Still, it’s not hard to see why young people might not be so keen on Facebook. For one thing, among those billion-or-so users is many kids’ parents. And grandparents. Having your mommy comment on that picture of you and your boys at a party is, unequivocally, not cool. Further, and rightly so, there’s a great deal of drama that can go on via Facebook. Everyone in a class can know what’s going on with everyone else, dating relationships hinge on the level and timing of Facebook official-ness, and--let’s be honest--teens will make many a post or comment that they’ll regret.
Facebook isn’t in trouble with teens--yet. But it’s possible that the dip in teen use may be a tipping point for a rapid decline, and Facebook will need to brace itself.