I remember when Facebook became available at my college, it was a mad rush to join as soon as possible. It was the “cool” thing to do. Times have changed. That was when you had to be in college to be apart of the network. Now, anyone can join the site and that includes Aunt Betsy and Uncle Willie. Facebook is no longer cool for teens, unless you like when your Grandma and Grandpa comment on your ever so perfectly-crafted, epic status update. Teens across the country are abandoning Facebook and spending more of their social networking hours on sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
So what is it driving teens away? The advertisements? Their parents and grandparents joining the site?
I think it’s a combination of factors. Teenagers like to rebel, so if their parents think Facebook is cool… it’s time to leave. They also don’t want their parents knowing what they’re doing every second of the day. Isn’t that what everyone uses Facebook for? To tell everyone (whether they care or not) the play-by-play of their days. Teenagers are instead heading for sites and networks that their parents don’t know about yet.
Facebook’s chief financial officer David Ebersman did in fact admit to the exiting of some teen users, “We did see a decrease in daily users, especially younger teens.” However he claims that teenage use has remained stable from Q2 to Q3 of 2013. No one is convinced.
Studies show that the percentage of teens using Facebook has dropped, and the percentage of teens using Instagram and other niche social networking sites has grown. Which brings us back to the “rebel” theory. Teens are trying to assert their independence from their parents. The last thing a teen wants is their mom to comment on their check-in asking “What time will you be home, honey?”
Advertisements may play a minimal role in the loss of many teen users. However, as each social network grows in terms of number of users, they turn to advertising to increase revenue. Even “cooler” sites like Instagram and Twitter have sponsored posts and tweets. Snapchat has not explored the opportunity of advertising. Seems pretty simple to me; teens are avoiding whatever sites their parents use.