Teenagers to Facebook: We Just Aren’t That Into You
The governments of the world, privacy issues, and debates about information monopolies might turn out as the least of Facebook’s problem. If the new Pew data is to be believed, Facebook is not only under fire, but teens just aren’t that into it anymore.
Now only 51 percent of kids ages 13-17 use Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. The world’s largest social network is eclipsed in popularity by YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram.
“The social media environment today revolves less around a single platform than it did three years ago,” the researchers wrote in a survey published on Thursday. Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube is the most popular, used by 85 percent of teens, according to Pew.
The U.S. is by far Facebook’s most lucrative advertising market, where it makes a staggering $23.59 in quarterly revenue per user. But that doesn’t mean growth can continue forever. The company said in its most recent earnings call that it’s effectively saturated the market in the U.S. and Canada, counting 185 million users in those two countries combined.
The study demonstrates how difficult it may be to keep up that level of dominance, and how important the 2012 Instagram acquisition has been for Facebook’s future. Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Instagram is slightly more popular than Snapchat overall, Pew said, with 72 percent of respondents saying they use the photo-sharing app, compared with Snapchat’s 69 percent. But Snap Inc. is holding its own, despite Instagram’s frequent parroting of its features. About one-third of the survey’s respondents said they visit Snapchat and YouTube most often, while 15 percent said Instagram is their most frequent destination.
Meanwhile, only 10 percent of teens said Facebook is their most-used online platform. The Pew analysis was based on a survey of 1,058 parents who have a teenager from 13 to 17, as well as interviews with 743 teens themselves. Interviews were conducted online and by telephone from March 7 to April 10.
The underlying Pew article, also notes that smartphones are nearly universal among American teens, and that demographic has a varied view of the effect of social media has on them.
This shift in teens’ social media use is just one example of how the technology landscape for young people has evolved since the Center’s last survey of teens and technology use in 2014-2015. Most notably, smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 95% of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.
The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.
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