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Personal Tech

Facebook Is Losing Teens, But Not Dead Yet

Facebook Is Losing Teens, But Not Dead Yet
December 30, 2013 10:19AM

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Despite the reports attributing Facebook's decline to the loss of teen members, they are still the largest age group on the site. Additionally, Facebook has generally grown because other age groups are catching up. There has been a massive increase in user interaction among older Facebook users who also have more money to spend at the site.

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Over the course of the past year, there's been much discussion about Facebook's decline in popularity, with many users posting far less frequently than they used to. Some attribute the decline to concerns over privacy and Facebook's frequent changes, as well as the increased focus on advertising. At the same time, Facebook has seen a decrease in users, specifically among teens who are beginning to view it as less important than other social sites including Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.

A new study has attempted to quantify the number of teens who are leaving Facebook in favor of other services. Along with those statistics, at least one of the study's researchers has gone so far as to say that Facebook is "basically dead and buried." While it may be true that some teens are leaving the network, Facebook seems to be doing just fine, when looking at the larger picture.

Exaggerated Claims

Professor Daniel Miller helped produce the European-based Social Media Impact Study (SMIS), which analyzes how social media is affecting our lives. Information from the study has fueled much of the media coverage about Facebook's decline in popularity over the past year.

In one of SMIS's reports, Miller mentioned the large numbers of teens who appear to be leaving Facebook because their parents are on the network, making it an "uncool" place to be. "What we've learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried," says Miller.

The problem with the way that the media has construed Miller's statements is that some people seem to think that SMIS has put together a massive international report specifically on Facebook's demise. In reality, these statements were based off a smaller set of research in the U.K. that was only mentioned in one section of SMIS's article.

The one statement that Facebook is "dead and buried" has led many people to assume that is, in fact, the case. But with more than a billion users and a loyal following, the social network actually seems to be thriving. Still, based on the stats, at least some changes may be needed for Facebook to regain popularity among the teen demographic.

What's Really Going On?

Despite the reports attributing Facebook's decline to the loss of teen members, they are still the largest age group on the site. Additionally, Facebook has generally grown because other age groups are catching up. Other analysts agree that many teens have changed their use patterns with Facebook, as they have found mobile-centered apps to be more enjoyable. As a whole, though, teens are not causing the demise of the entire network.

Indeed, teens along with 20-somethings, have been using the network less frequently. But at the same time, there has been a massive increase in user interaction among older users who may have more time and money to spend on the site. Thus, a slight decrease in teens has been counteracted by a huge increase in older users who are now enabling use of Facebook to grow around the world.

Even though Miller and SMIS are frequently being quoted for calling Facebook dead, it may be more accurate to simply call the network "uncool" in comparison to how it used to be.

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