Facebook has been making the news a lot lately. Of course, I have not been one to defend it over the years, and today is no different. That said, I’m not exactly surprised or shocked by this news. It’s been reported that Facebook is no longer popular with teens. A new study from Pew Research Center has indicated that just 51% of Americans from the age of 13-17 use Facebook. This is down from 71% in 2015. I remember when my niece (who is now 22) told my mother that no young person was using Facebook anymore, and that was like 7 years ago. Was she just ahead of her time? Perhaps. It should also be noted that those same teens are now using Instagram and Snapchat. Again – is this really a big surprise?
A somewhat scary statistic is that approximately 45% of teens report being online almost constantly. I say that’s scary because that feels like a high number. But then maybe it’s not considering how much we exist online now, to begin with. A surprising statistic for me is this – 85% of American kids say that they use YouTube the most. Instagram and Snapchat are understood to be more of the social networking side of things, like Facebook, but YouTube shouldn’t be discredited in this regard.
I was not surprised by this statistic – only 32% of American teens report having a Twitter account. While I don’t think we should lump Twitter in with Facebook, it has a bit of a niche market as it’s not a place to be overly creative. I am far from being a teenager and I really only use Twitter for the news or to keep up to date on current events. Twitter has its place, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, but I can certainly see why teenagers wouldn’t find it appealing.
The number of teens who report being online “almost constantly” jumped significantly since Pew’s 2015 poll. Forty-five percent of teens say they’re online almost constantly (both on smartphones and computers) compared with just 24 percent who said the same thing in 2015. Forty-four percent reported being online “several times a day” in the most recent study. Back in 2015, “several times a day” was the most popular answer, reported by 56 percent of teens.
Should we be surprised by any of this? Including the fact that no one likes Facebook? An interesting finding of the study suggests that Facebook is most popular with kids who come from lower-income homes. Teens who come from a household that makes less than $30,000 per year, are the most likely to use Facebook. What’s the correlation? The only thing I can think of is smartphone use. You don’t need a smartphone to use Facebook, but you do for Instagram and Snapchat. Well with Instagram, you can use it online, but it has limited features. I’m not saying that’s why it’s more popular amongst that group, but I would hazard a guess that it is.
I think what we should be thinking about with this study is what does it mean for Facebook? They still have many users, so I’m not saying that they are down for the count. But perhaps they need to figure out what they want to do and re-brand themselves that way? There are so many features available with Facebook now, and I think that they’re getting away from their raison d’etre. Which, according to these stats, might be a good thing. But if you’re no longer appealing to certain age groups, why don’t you think about what kind of platform you are, and who you want your users to be. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone?