Amid a claim
and a denial
’s plummeting popularity among teens, an EU
study has emerged that affirms the former assertion, at least among teenagers in the UK
. Professor of Material Culture at University College of London Daniel Miller wrote that his research team is conducting 15-month ethnographies on teens in 8 countries, and among the results they’re finding, it would seem that Facebook is not doing well in the 16-18 age group.
“What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried,” he wrote. “Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it.”
The killer is that teenager’s parents are on the site now, and Miller noted that it’s just not perceived as cool anymore. But it’s not merely that parents are present on Facebook; it’s that the use case for the site has evolved. Now, instead of being a place where kids can go to interact with their friends without interloping parents, it’s a space where parents are expecting kids to actively stay connected with the family.
Put another way: Facebook used to be sort of a kids-only party, and now not only are parents chaperoning the party, they’re making the kids play the piano for their grandparents, too.
So what are kids looking to instead? Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and WhatsApp. Miller noted that each of those four services has its own role. For instance, SnapChat is used between very close friends, while WhatsApp is acceptable between good friends. Twitter is used for a broader audience, and Instagram can be for anyone, including strangers. Thus, it’s clear that UK teens aren’t souring on social media by any means, but they’re no longer keen on Facebook.
It’s important to note that these findings aren’t backed by hard numbers on usage, or at least the source didn’t cite any; the findings may be based more on qualitative interviews as opposed to quantitative statistics. That by no means disqualifies the results, but there will be plenty of people that will be skeptical until they see some stats.
In any case, it’s hard to deny that Facebook is at least evolving in its usage, if not completely falling out of favor with younger users.