Is Facebook Losing Teens?

    November 2, 2013
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

The kids aren’t digging Facebook as much as they used to be. That’s the message that has been coming through the blogosphere, and finally, even kind of admitted by Facebook itself.

Do you think Facebook is at risk of losing teens? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook released its Q3 earnings this week. While there was plenty of positive information in there for Facebook, CFO David Ebersman brought up a decrease in teen engagement during the conference call.

First, he noted, “728 million people used Facebook on an average day in September, up 25% from last year. Growth continues to be driven by mobile. In Q3 for the first time, daily actives on web declined year over year, albeit very modestly.”

He then said, “I want to say a few words about youth engagement on Facebook. As we’ve said previously, this is a hard issue for us to measure because self-reported age data is unreliable for younger users, so we’ve developed other analytical methods to help us estimate usage by age. Our best analysis of youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S. teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.”

He continued, “We won’t typically call out such granular data, especially when it’s of questionable statistical significance, given the lack of precision of age estimates for younger users, but we wanted to share this with you now since we get a lot of questions about teens. We’re pleased that we remain close to fully penetrated on teens in the U.S. Our monthly user numbers remain steady, and overall engagement on Facebook remains strong. We’ll continue to focus our development efforts to build products that drive engagement for people of all ages.”

This is quite a different tone from the company that we were seeing after its Q2 report back in the summer. Mark Zuckerberg, at the time, brushed off the idea that teens were losing interest in Facebook, saying that teen use had held steady for the past year-and-a-half.

“One specific demographic I want to address is U.S. teens,” he said. “There has been a lot of speculation and reporting that fewer teens are using Facebook. But based on our data, that just isn’t true. It’s difficult to measure this perfectly, since some young people lie about their age. But based on the best data we have, we believe that we are close to fully penetrated in the U.S. teen demographic for a while, and the number of teens using Facebook on both a daily and monthly basis has been steady over the past year-and-a-half.”

“Teens also remain really highly engaged using Facebook,” he added. “Now it’s also worth mentioning that these stats are for Facebook only. Instagram is growing quickly, as well, so if you combine the two services together, we believe our engagement and share of time spent are likely growing quickly throughout the world.”

Obviously something has changed, though Facebook is still high on its Instagram stats (150 million users as of a month ago).

Last month, Facebook made some changes to its privacy policy, enabling teens to be able to post publicly.

“Teens are among the savviest people using social media, and whether it comes to civic engagement, activism, or their thoughts on a new movie, they want to be heard. So, starting today, people aged 13 through 17 will also have the choice to post publicly on Facebook,” said Facebook at the time. “While only a small fraction of teens using Facebook might choose to post publicly, this update now gives them the choice to share more broadly, just like on other social media services.”

It wasn’t long after that that a study from Piper Jaffray came out finding that Twitter has become more popular among teens than Facebook for the first time.

26% of teens, according to the study, preferred Twitter, compared to 23% for Facebook.

Given Twitter’s more public nature, you might agree with Facebook that kids just want to be heard, and to some extent, that’s probably true, but it’s only part of the story. Kids also increasingly don’t want to be heard by people they’re not talking to, and don’t want everything they do to remain on the web, preferring more communications with apps like Snapchat.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, Facebook approached Snapchat about a possible acquisition for more than $1 billion (so more than it paid for Instagram), but the company declined.

That in itself is a pretty powerful statement on Snapchat and teen use. Facebook is losing interest from young people, and both Facebook and Snapchat know it.

Snapchat investor Bill Gurley said at TechCrunch Disrupt this week, “For kids, the Internet is increasingly becoming a place that you can’t share, that you can’t have fun, that you can’t socialize in the way you want to. I think that’s really the essence of Snapchat. It’s a platform where they can communicate and have fun without any anxiety about the permanence. You hear about kids not getting jobs because of what’s on their Facebook page.”

Despite its challenges, Facebook still has plenty of teens, and probably will for the foreseeable future. Facebook simply has such a higher volume of users (including teens) than anything else, and that has to count for something.

AdAge put out a new report called, “Marketers: Facebook Still Has Way More Teens Than Anyone Else.” In it, they quote PayPal head of social media Dave Peck as saying:

“Find me a better network. You take half of what Facebook has, and it’s still more than anyone else has,” he said. “It’s not like I can advertise on Snapchat.”

Pew found in August that 94% of teens had Facebook profiles, compared to just 26% for Twitter.

Are you concerned about declining teen Facebook use? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Thinkstock/Josh Wolford

  • Nanny

    Post an article about decline in Yelp users
    Since Yelp is not a place people trust for their reviews anymore

  • http://www.chanskydesign.com Matt

    Well – based on my data as a father of a tween and being around her tween and teen friends – I’d say no one is talking about Facebook at all. Instagram is the rage. If Facebook can re-address the “selfie” market – they could get the attention of the younger generation even more.

    • Karen

      I agree. I have a 15 year and a 20 year old. They both say “no one is using facebook” . My friends say the same about their teens. They might login now and then, but it’s no longer the “place to be”. They use Instagram and Snapchat, or other services. It’s not that parents are controlling their usage. It’s that parents are on facebook, so the teens have gone elsewhere.

  • Robbie

    Something Facebook (and others) have not been considering is that we now have a new generation reaching parenting age who have a clue about the internet and know the tools to control their children’s use.

    Ten years ago no parent knew the risks or how to control their child’s access. Now, parents are more aware and increasingly more empowered to take action to limit their child’s use.

    There is bound to be a decline in teen numbers, simply because parents are becoming more aware and have greater opportunity to control access.

    The Wild West days are almost over, and this will be a very interesting time.

    • http://www.chanskydesign.com Matt

      I completely agree with Robbie’s comment and am really glad that you made that post. I’m in that camp. I don’t know if the Wild West days are almost over, but there are certainly many more sheriffs than before. :)

  • Steve

    I didn’t you to tell me that Facebook was out with the teens and 20 somethings. I heard that 2 tears ago form my then 21 year old. And you’re just now coming around to reporting that. The younger generations know that when their parents and grandparents start hanging out online where they do it’s time to move on to the next “IN” spot.

  • Tom

    Most definitely is.


    Lack of privacy. I see it first hand with my kids and their peers. They have already moved from FB to twitter to twitter with PW protected accounts. But most text everything.

    The tweens like Instagram but not as a primary form of communication, just an addendum. But again – two and 3 party texts are more the norm.

    I will forever not understand the selfie. I wish a psychologist would explain it to me. Aren’t we inadvertantly creating a self absorbed generation?

  • https://www.searchen.com/ John Colascione

    Younger users don’t want to be Policed and they are probably starting to feel like they cannot express themselves as they would like to on Facebook and this is probably what is pushing them to competing networks land lower profile social sites.

  • http://trevorhickmaninsurance.com/ Trevor Hickman

    Facebook has to “face” the fact that the shared information appeals to people who really care about their network and want to stay informed of their doings. Young teenagers could not give hoot about what Aunt Sally did last weekend. But us oldsters are not going anywhere else. Google+ sure did not take the market share from facebook that they seemed to be aiming for.

  • http://www.teen.com iamteen

    Ofcourse, we dont reveal our age that we are teenage. Lol

  • roger

    yeah, fuckkkk facebook, rich bastards!

  • Elo

    As a dad with 2 teenagers I can confirm that FB is definitely not cool with them or their friends – so glad that this intrusive monstrosity of social media is on the nose. Love the quote from Dave Peck saying:

    “Find me a better network. You take half of what Facebook has, and it’s still more than anyone else has,” he said. “It’s not like I can advertise on Snapchat.”
    hmmmm – that’s the whole point lmao

  • Bill

    Facebook has been out of favor for a few years, now with tweens – that’s old news! Facebook has been too busy cashing in to realize that, I guess.

    My kids and friends began using Twitter at least 2-3 years ago, and then there’s the “selfie” thing. Facebook is still there, but used primarily to communicate with “older” family members – you know those older, upper 20 somethings and 30 year olds who haven’t migrated to Twitter.

    The downside of going public – now their focus is on keeping their shareholders and Wall Street happy. Prior to going public the goal was to maximize the consumers experience. Now the goal is to figure out how to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of the pockets of their consumers.

  • Ron

    I honestly can’t tell you why anyone ever went to Facebook. It honestly feels like the sheep pretty much followed each other off the cliff with that one. There’s really no other explanation. It was really just a popularity thing.
    Personally I never felt like Facebook had anything unique to offer. It was only a matter of time before people started moving on to something that’s actually fun or creative again.

  • Mike Jarvis

    Being a Father, I feel this is a good thing.

    Maybe the kids are going out more and hooking up with real friends, talking face 2 face instead of sitting in front of a screen chatting on the supposable social networks, to FB friends who they’ve never actually met, which is the internet..!!

  • http://www.slimtop10.com Marry

    I thought that teenagers are the most active users of Facebook. It’s amazing discovery. I guess people are more keen to use twitter nowadays. Although Google+ tried to attract Facebook users but it has failed to do it.

  • Bryan

    I’ve been working in the VYC school system for almost 25 years. And even when MySpace was popular, a lot of these teens use these scial medias for the wrong reasons. Like insulting their friends or their friend’s friends. Or to plot and plan fights. I’ve seen too many negetive things happen because they don’t understand the true concept of what social media is supposed to be about.

  • Chris Friday

    My 14 year old grand daughter and 15 year old grandson have both stopped using Facebook; they both like Instragram better. And both have also commented that there is too much “old people” stuff and activity on facebook now.

    Some of my granddaughter’s friends don’t like the parental control on FB either – though my grandkids know that since I am paying for their cell phones, I do check on their activities online and both are ok with it.

  • Stephan

    Teens are gonna go where the adults aren’t. There are just too many parents and grandparents and bosses on facebook now for it to be “cool.” Teens are probably more fond of websites like instagram and tumblr because there is still plenty of anonymity on those sites, parents don’t lurk there, they aren’t as controlled. If enyone thinks this trend will end, they are mistaken. There won’t be a website that remains popular amoung teens when it becomes well-known by adults, that would defeat the entire purpose of the escapism that is the internet. Teens don’t want to “hang out” with their friends under supervision, not in real life, and not on the interwebs.

  • http://www.prforgood.com Joanne Henry

    Of course some teens are leaving Facebook, or in my experience, keeping sites up but only to use them for FB messaging functions. When grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents are flocking to a social media site, older teens will not be letting it all hang out there. And may skip this hang-out altogether.

  • http://nishaslittlebuddies Nisha’s Little Buddies

    I use Facebook daily for Nisha’s Little Buddies Training Center. We provide a series of educational workshops to parents, children and childcare providers. In addition we have a series “Life Skills” Workshops for teens. It is tradition to take over 50 photographs of each workshop, this allows parents to have sense of being there, more importantly seeing we are truly their partner in parenting. 95% of my teens they DO NOT COMMENT ON FACEBOOK. They respond to my text message filled with pictures. 95% of my teens DO NOT share their personal struggles or teen challenges with me on Facebook, they share via text. I believe it is because you DO NOT allow me to post my albums on their page or message my teens.

  • Mauri Share

    YES, ABSOLUTELY! I have a 14 year old son and we discussed this very topic. I asked him if it was true and he confirmed it. He said ” Mom no high school kids is going to go on FB anymore, we use instagram. We just share pictures and stuff, if there is someone we want to talk to we just text them with our phones” This is so true, almost every kids has a phone now , no need to try to “Chat” on Facebook when they can just text each other. My 11 year, who wanted an account just told me that she no longer wants it because she doesnt need it anymore either. She too has a cell.

    Not sure FB , what will you do next?

  • Louise Tinkler

    I believe this to be true and there are many reasons for this. First of all, as facebook becomes more business friendly, and more commonly used by adults, it looses some of its allure. Another reason is safety — many parents won’t allow facebook accounts in fear of their kids unwittingly becoming subject to less than desirable contacts. Its also often a distraction when kids are “on facebook” for all hours. And finally, with all the other social media options available now, not to mention smartphones and iphones, its really becomming obsolete for them.

  • carol

    I think that the data indicating that less teens use Facebook is skewed AND it is true. First, teens lie about their age. Also, since I started using Facebook in January of 2008, MANY, MANY more older people (of which I am one) have connected on Facebook. I have connected with many old friends from college, high school and even elementary school. When teens’ parents start using Facebook, it diminishes the teens’ interest in using it. What teen wants to socialize with their parents, and especially if their parents’
    posts are accessible to their friends? I know many teens who do not use Facebook for this reason. They are finding other outlets that their parents are not using.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    Yep its all about business and revenue and you cannot please both business and kids. FB was never about business till recently.

    Tweens dont have any idea about privacy. They have grown up in a world without privacy and have no idea what it means pre-cctv or mobile devices that track everything.

  • dave

    Look what happened to myspace! Once it was seen as “uncool” the younger crowed disappeared overnight.

  • http://www.toothcaredaily.com marcus

    I heard of this news a while back on msnbc a couple of months back. It is hard to sustain teenagers attention span. Hopefully this does not filter down like other social networks. It still surprises me that older people let younger people define what is still cool and what is not. I think Facebook still have a few years of sustainable staying power.

  • http://idk.xom Mary

    Yeah I rarely log onto fb anymore…i guess its just another MySpace long and forgotten

  • http://ohtoptens.com/ SAJID

    Yeah and i heard somewhere that Facebook will end in 2018… its now loosing users…