With Facebook (FB) set to turn 10 in 2014, the social media giant may be having a problem with age — teens are leaving FB for other social media like Twitter (TWTR) and SnapChat.
New research in Europe shows that teens are mostly leaving Facebook because of their parents.
“Facebook is not just on the slide – it is basically dead and buried,” wrote Daniel Miller, lead anthropologist on the research team, and also professor of material culture of University College London.
“Mostly they feel embarrassed to even be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives.”
The study looked at the social media habits of 16-18 year olds in eight European Union countries.
While in the United States, Facebook has often been lambasted for what is perceived as flip regard to privacy concerns, but the research showed that for teens in Europe, privacy didn’t seem to be the issue. Some 80% of young Facebook users from the study in Italy reported they weren’t concerned about Facebook’s use of their personal information.
And it’s not that surprising when you consider what the researchers learned (via The Guardian).
Information that people choose to publish on Facebook has generally been through a psychological filtering process, researchers found – unlike conversations, photos and video shared through more private tools such as Skype, or on mobile apps.
In effect, the researchers wrote, Facebook was being used as a front to show the world how great everything is — while other social media outlets were for the “real” you.
“Most individuals try to present themselves online the way they think society is expecting them to,” wrote contributing anthropologist Razvan Nicolescu.
Other private social media (especially SnapChat) allow users to vent and express themselves without the world — and their parents — watching.
It’s likely one reason why Facebook tried earlier this year to buy SnapChat for a reported $3 billion.
FB realizes its problem with teens — this year even addressing the issue head on (via Mashable):
The most obvious came during Facebook’s most recent earnings call, when CFO David Ebersman admitted that some teenagers were spending less time on the platform. “Youth usage among U.S. teens was stable overall from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users partly among younger teens,” Ebersman said. It was a brief mention, and there is no way of knowing exactly what Ebersman meant when he said “younger teens.” Still, it planted the seed that teens may be leaving the platform, however slowly.
In October, Facebook lowered the age requirements that restricted teenagers from making their posts public.
Facebook doesn’t break out the age of users, so there is no real way of knowing for certain — though the evidence seems to be mounting.
That leaves Twitter with a teen advantage — that is, until the next big thing comes along.
And given the attention span of teens, that may be sooner than later.
TWTR stock is up 63% since its offering.
FB stock is up 116% year to date.