A recent report has revealed how teen Facebook users are leaving the social media site in their millions. We all know that teenagers are very aware of their social status, and if some are leaving because they are too ‘embarrassed’ then the rest will follow like a heard of social media sheep. Is it possible that in a few years’ time we will see ‘RIP Facebook’ in the obituary section of technology blogs? After all, although we hate to admit it, those moody teenagers are our future, and if they are leaving Facebook, then the user demographic will inevitably get older and older.
Whilst Facebook remains confident that their young users are not migrating to other social media platforms, the question is whether Facebook might face the same fate as Myspace. This may be unlikely but certainly not out of the question. With platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp growing more and more popular amongst teens, could this be one of the reasons behind Zuckerberg’s brave purchase of Whatsapp for $19 billion (£11.4 billion) worth of cash and shares. This could in fact have been a tactical move to try and claw back some of Facebook’s lost teen users.
The ‘grown-up’ pandemic
Hearing “your mum’s on Facebook?” isn’t met with so much revulsion any more. You even hear the odd “yep, my nan’s on Facebook” coming from a youngster’s mouth as they hold their head dejectedly in their hands. It seems there are just too many ‘grown-ups’ on Facebook, and teens are clearly fed up with it. Would you have wanted to receive a friend request from your parents when you were at that ‘Kevin’ stage? The answer is no, most definitely not, but somehow it has become socially acceptable for parents to be on Facebook over the last couple of years.
There used to be an element of fear for parents when their child wanted to join Facebook. However, this fear has all but disappeared into thin air as now their families are on Facebook and are encouraged to stay on the site to share things about their lives with their relatives. Great – just what a teenager who hates the world wants to sign up for!
Up until about 20 years ago, parents were not their child’s friend – Facebook or otherwise – but their parent. And as their parent, they would install discipline and rules into their lives and would never dream of being anything but a guardian and protector. This is not to say that parents nowadays do not install rules and discipline, but we’re entering into a very different culture and most parents do everything they can to keep up with what’s happening with their kids in order to consider themselves as their child’s friend. It is not unheard of for parents to join their son or daughter on a night out for their birthday. Parents are taking a very different approach in the 21st century and this is one of the major reasons behind the ‘grown- up’ pandemic on Facebook.
Some parents would argue that they are on Facebook to protect their children (or keep an eye on them more like). This would seem slightly unfair, due to the fact that the social media ‘you’ and the real ‘you’ are often two very different people. We are all guilty of glamourising our somewhat mediocre lives, are we not? Naturally teenagers like to show off in front of their friends, being all too aware of their social status.
Is this really the end?
Will it really make a difference if all the teenagers leave Facebook? Personally I don’t think it will affect the site for a good few years. After all, there are still plenty of twenty-somethings on Facebook who use it as their main sharing platform. Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp are all brilliant applications and it’s almost inevitable that their popularity will keep on growing until they too will become ‘uncool’. Popularity will never last forever, as Myspace found out. For the moment, Facebook will live on – not only does it offer the bells and whistles that many of its competitors do not, but it is still used by everyone who isn’t a teenager, who most definitely outnumber those who are still a teenager!