Aging Facebook Losing Teens: Pew Research Survey

The young guns used to make for the largest user base for Facebook Inc. (FB), but it appears that the largest social media network is losing its appeal amon teens.

Though the relatively old network is now more than 2 billion users strong globally, and Facebook has become one of the most valuable technology companies in the world, the teens are turning away to other services—in particular, Snap Inc.’s (SNAP) Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram.

Facebook Use Declining Among Teens

NDTV reports the findings of the recent Pew Research Center survey according to which around 51% of American teenagers between 13 and 17 years of age use Facebook. However, that ranks a distant third when compared to 72% of the teens who are on Instagram and 69% who are on Snapchat.

The survey results show a big shift from those observed earlier. During 2014-15, Pew Research found that Facebook was the leader among teens with a remarkable 71% engagement.

"The social media environment among teens is quite different from what it was just three years ago," said Pew researcher Monica Anderson. "Back then, teens' social media use mostly revolved around Facebook. Today, their habits revolve less around a single platform."

The disengagement of the teen brigade from the world’s largest social media platform appears unrelated to the recent issues of data breach for the cases like Cambridge Analytica, as the report cites that “breakup of teens and Facebook was occurring before (the data breach).” (See also: 1 in 10 US Facebook Users Deleted Account: Survey.)

Survey results also report that around 85% of the teenagers regularly use Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Google’s online video service YouTube.

Facebook Falls Behind in Features

Despite all the advances made by Facebook—like launch of a parent-controlled Messenger Kids app, expansion to new regions like Canada and Peru, and plans to offer services similar to YouTube and Netflix—the network appears to be losing its teenage user base.

A wealth of features available on other platforms seems to an issue hurting Facebook. For instance, a young Snap user cites the availability of adding "animation, special effects, that's what's interesting for my generation," while Instagram is preferred as its "more about creativity, people who make music or photography can post what they do."

The sentiment is echoed by other studies. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Facebook is prone to losing around 2 million American users this year who are below 24 of age. A separate survey conducted by Forrester Research reports that 34% of American youth active online view Facebook as a portal for “old people and parents": "US online youth regard Facebook as a utility, while other networks that deliver niche value steal attention from Facebook's broad platform," said Forrester's Anjali Lai in a research note.

Despite these developments, Facebook still remains the king of social networks. It has 2.2 billion users, way ahead compared to Snapchat having 191 million and Twitter Inc. (TWTR) having 336 million at the end of March.

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