Why is Facebook Losing Teenagers?

by on January 23rd, 2014

Facebook is going through a transition, and like every transition, there are positives and negatives. One of the obvious negatives is that Facebook is losing the support of the younger generations. More often and often it is heard that Facebook is losing the teenagers. While statistics back up that statement that there has been a 25% decline within the 13-17 age group and an 8% decline in the 18-24 year old age group since 2011, the question of why is often an unsatisfactory attempt at the answer.

There are several reasons why teenagers are turning their back on the massive social network. The easy answer that most pundits turn to is: “Because it isn’t cool anymore”. There is very little evidence of this except for word of mouth. The true reasons are because Facebook isn’t carefree anymore.

When Facebook first came out it was a brand new way of communicating, of being cool, of finding a place to express yourself and have your friends see it. It was also exclusive. Facebook was initially rolled out for a few select universities, then nationwide across the US, to other universities, to the over 18s and then to everyone. This initially resulted in millions of younger siblings wanting what their older sibling had, but were unable to get it because they couldn’t get their hands on an .edu email address.

As Facebook eventually let more users access it, the golden ticket of having a profile became less and less appealing. As any teenager will tell you, it isn’t cool if their parents are doing it too. Which brings us to the first reason Facebook is losing the younger generation.

Having your parents on Facebook is a burden, there are several types of Facebook parent. You have the ones who are overly active and add all of your friends. The ones who like every status, picture, comment and new friendship. The ones who have a completely blank profile but follow each of your posts, comments or interactions and think it is appropriate to talk about those posts over the dinner table. Finally the worst type of parent is the one who combines the before mentioned stereotypes with endless invitations to play Farmville with them.

With any notification nowadays, there is a fear that it could be a picture where the cigarette is visible, or one where you have clearly had a few too many drinks, or is a costume or outfit that might be deemed unacceptable in your parent’s eyes. And while you are busy out partying, your parent is already in the know, the ultimate nightmare for teenagers! The days of sharing a joke or a picture, safe in the knowledge that only you and your friends would see it are gone.

Although this is stating the obvious, the generation that grew up with Facebook as a brand new global phenomenon and were the first to feel the magic of social networking is growing up. The excitement, hype and unique feeling of being part of something was special. But gradually that buzz and excitement became more and more diluted, with the launch of more social networks. This had led to an increase of handpicking social networks to individual needs and what they offer, not because everyone has it.

Facebook remains a staple in our lives, it is great for birthday reminders, event invitations, staying in touch with people and procrastination. But just because Facebook has become essential to our generation, doesn’t mean the next generation will feel the same way.

Teenagers are aren’t exactly abandoning Facebook, they are merely not using it to the same capacity as the previous generation did. The rise of Instagram, Snapchat and social communication via Whatsapp has not diminished Facebook’s strong foothold, but provided viable and sometimes cooler alternatives to photo sharing and communication.
With the increased privacy worries too, the younger generation don’t trust Facebook as much as the previous ones did. What was initially a safe haven for stupid jokes, has now become a potential pitfall for gaining employment. This has led to Teens treating Facebook with a lot more caution.

Facebook has embedded itself in the life of teenagers, young professionals and parents now too. With this increased social dynamic, there will be some groups using it more than others. This is a natural transition, not a reason to panic.