My 14-year-old wouldn’t be caught dead on Facebook.
A high school guidance counselor suggested that she and other students follow her on Facebook to stay in touch with posts about potential scholarships and financial aid for college. Rather than create her own account and risk uncool exposure, my teenager begged me to follow the woman.
You know it’s the kiss of death when schools start requiring it.
So I could have told Facebook it was in trouble long before a Global Social Media Impact Study recently ruled that Facebook is “dead and buried” to teens as they move on to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other social media channels.
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Facebook is getting grayer as kids seek their own digital freedom, looking for a cyberhangout of their own. Now all our friends and family members (including my husband) who stubbornly refused to get on FB in the first place can sneer that they’re ahead of the curve. Good luck trying to keep up.
Why does this surprise anybody?
Teenagers have always carved out their own spaces, shunning adult-created hangouts. Grown-ups can come up with all the “teen centers” and dances they want. No self-respecting teenager will show her face at any of it.
Over winter break, my kids are staying connected to their closest friends and cousins on Snapchat and Instagram. Who wants to hang out where parents are trying to friend you and track your every move?
Facebook already knew it had a teen-appeal issue. When it filed its annual report earlier this year, it warned investors that younger users were turning to other services. Back in May, a report from Pew Internet & American Life Project found that Facebook was still a leading social network among American teenagers, but it also was the most reviled. The majority of teenagers complained of an increasing adult presence, high-pressure and too much drama from over-sharing.
My guess is that today’s kids are going to drive the next big social networking platform into a new realm, demanding more privacy and smaller, more specialized networks. The kind of exclusive exchanges already occurring on Instagram’s instant messaging and Snapchat.
Those kids we complain about being anti-social and spending too much time on their phones with their friends? They’re the ones who are going to push the medium to become more private, connecting in deeper and more meaningful exchanges.
Until the adults discover how it works.