Facebook is ‘so over,’ teenagers say

Social media has transformed our lives and opened up opportunities, but a new survey says teenage users are leaving the biggest site of all, Facebook: are snooping parents to blame?

It is every business mogul’s nightmare, and every entrepreneur’s best opportunity: a super-successful phenomenon is losing its edge and other, newer, more lively-looking ideas may be about to take over. According to new research just released, teenagers are abandoning Facebook, worried about adults seeing what they get up to online.

The professor behind the project said: ‘What we've learned from working with 16 to 18-year-olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried.’

For now, with 1.1 billion people maintaining a Facebook account, the site that nurtured so many friendships and ruined so many others is still the giant of the genre.

But Instagram’s 15-second videos, or Vine’s six-second loops of film are more popular for sharing, and are certainly seen as ‘more cool’ the researchers claimed, unleashing global negative headlines for the Facebook corporation.

Snapchat is probably the most exciting new site, with its instantly self-destructing files, and a $3 billion offer from Facebook to buy the company rejected in November by its 23-year-old founder.

Twitter is used by more than 20% of the world’s online population – 288 million. Whether for gossiping, sharing jokes and photos, promotion or for work, many cannot now imagine a world without the 140-character ‘microblogs’.

And LinkedIn had 20 million new users last year – it may seem dull and staid, but this site is intended to be a more serious place to build a ‘personal brand’ and boost career prospects. LinkedIn is trying to get ever-younger people onto its network too: sharing instant videos may be the current obsession, they argue, but what about having a profile online which you can send to college admissions tutors or prospective employers?

In fact, all the big players, and any inventors and entrepreneurs working on social media, are caught up in a battle for teenagers’ attention: that’s the way to have a business with longevity.

Adapt, improve or die

Will Facebook go the same way as IBM or Betamax video tapes? It seems impossible to believe that Mark Zuckerberg, who hasn’t given up wearing his hoodie since inventing ‘the Facebook’ (as he originally called it) in his bedroom at Harvard University, is now the chief executive of an old-fashioned phenomenon.

But perhaps this is inevitable: Facebook becomes the online reserve of older generations, who still want to share pictures of their children and keep up with friends and family as work scatters them across the globe. But those children in the smiling baby photos won’t create their own accounts if they find a better virtual hangout. The only question is, can the mighty Facebook use its power to buy up all these rivals and avoid becoming the IBM of the 20teens?

You Decide

  1. Do you mind if your parents or other adults see what you and your friends post on social media?
  2. Teenagers are often criticised for how much time they spend online: is this fair?

Activities

  1. Find the study’s author on Twitter @dannyanth and tell him what you like or don’t like about Facebook.
  2. Research other examples of very successful businesses or ideas that were overtaken.

Some People Say...

“You are what you share.’Charles Leadbeater”

What do you think?

Q & A

I still use Facebook.
Me too. And the news stories about ‘the death of Facebook’ are based on observations taken from one country in the worldwide study – the UK. There’s also quite an argument going on about whether the academic has over-hyped his research. But it is interesting to think about what social media is most useful to you as you grow up.
Why does everything have to be so serious?
Fair point. And it’s doubtless the reason why some teenagers aren’t using sites where they can be ‘spied on’ by parents or other adults who supervise them. But you need to think about the trails that you leave online. If something embarrassing on Facebook or another social media site deprived you of a job or college place, you wouldn’t be the first such case, unfortunately!

Word Watch

IBM
It may sound like ancient history now, but the technology industry has been here before. In the early 1990s, IBM, an enormous American corporation, dominated the computer industry and declared that it would continue to do so by selling every worker in the world one of its personal computers (PCs). But then along came Apple, with its delicious white designs, its user-friendly interface and brilliant, constant updates. Suddenly IBM looked like a corporate dinosaur unable to adapt and evolve.
Betamax
Another dramatic example of technology that failed to win the race: Betamax was the alternative format to VHS video tapes. Of course now those are obsolete as well, as technology marches on.

Subjects

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