As Facebook ages, teens look elsewhere to connect

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SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Manon, 17, has a Facebook account but to connect with her friends she turns to other social networks like Instagram or Snapchat.

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“I don’t use it to post status updates or personal information,” the San Francisco teen says.

Manon maintains her Facebook account to be able to stay in touch with the large number of users on the huge social network and as a “gateway” to log into other apps.

“But to communicate with my friends, it’s Snapchat,” the high schooler said.

“Everyone says Facebook is out of date. I think it’s because all the parents are on Facebook.”

As Facebook has grown into a network of more than two billion people globally it has lost its luster for younger users who made up a core base.

While Facebook has become one of the world’s most valuable and powerful companies, it’s no longer seen as a cool destination for teens, who are turning to Snapchat and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

According to a Pew Research Center survey this year, 51 percent of US teens ages 13 to 17 use Facebook, compared with 72 percent for Instagram and 69 percent who are on Snapchat. The survey found 85 percent used the Google video sharing service YouTube.

The landscape has shifted since a 2014-15 Pew survey which found Facebook leading other social networks with 71 percent of the teen segment.

“The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago,” said Pew researcher Monica Anderson.

“Back then, teens’ social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform.”

The breakup of teens and Facebook was occurring before the latest scandals which have hit Facebook over hijacked user data and propagation of misinformation.

According to a Forrester Research survey 34 percent of US online youth view Facebook “as a website for old people and parents.”

“US online youth regard Facebook as utility, while other networks that deliver niche value steal attention from Facebook’s broad platform,” said Forrester’s Anjali Lai in a research note.

“Established social networks face an image problem.”

A report by eMarketer estimated that Facebook would lose two million US users under age 24 this year.

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