An extensive European study has revealed that teenagers are abandoning Facebook in their droves, with the presence of their parents on the network one of the key factors. The Global Social Media Impact Study found that younger users are shifting to alternative platforms such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram and Twitter for their social media fix.
Professor Daniel Miller is on the research team and writes: “Facebook is not just on the slide — it is basically dead and buried. What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day your mom sends you a friend request.”
“It is nothing new that young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool anymore.”
Miller’s work with 16-18 year-olds in the UK found that while teens conceded that Facebook was technically superior for organizing photos, events and profiles, it has become embarrassing for younger people to be associated with the platform, particularly since their parents and grandparents arrived.
The study is on-going and hasn’t released exact statistics for social network use among younger people, but Miller notes a shift in how different platforms are being used: “The closest friends are connected to each other via Snapchat, WhatsApp is used to communicate with quite close friends and Twitter the wider friends. Instagram can include strangers and is used a little differently.”
He notes that Facebook does remain important for keeping in touch with older family members (such as brothers and sisters who have left for college), so there may be hope yet for Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth — and of course Facebook owns Instagram, one of the up-and-coming challengers.
The 15-month study is due to be completed in 2014, and is also looking at attitudes towards online privacy: field tests in Italy found that 40 percent of Facebook users had never changed their privacy settings, while 80 percent were unconcerned about who could see their updates or access their data.