Teens to Facebook: You are dead to us

A European study out today of teens ages 16 to 18 says they are leaving for other digital haunts such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp.

We sort of knew that was going on, evidenced by Facebook’s failed bid for Snapchat. But what is even worse from the social networking giant’s point of view is that teens who stay on Facebook say they do so because their parents want them there, according to The Guardian, which had a summation of the study.

The lead anthropologist, Daniel Miller, wrote:

Facebook is not just on the slide – it is basically dead and buried…Mostly they feel embarrassed to even be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives.

You can imagine the conversations: “Send the family a thank you post on Facebook, or I’m taking your iPhone away.”

In November, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said that reports of teens leaving Facebook were overblown, as Brandon Bailey wrote here. Teen usage of Facebook remains stable, she said then.

But today’s study raises the question: Do teens on Facebook have the parental gun at their back to be there?

Twitter and Facebook appear to have opposite problems. While Twitter struggles to attract people over 30 who can’t make heads or tail of the chaotic conversation stream, Facebook has appealed to multiple generations so well that teens don’t see it as their place.

Facebook’s challenge is to win back the teens. I argued in the Mercury News that Facebook was starting with teens too late and that it could change that by allowing kids under 13 on the service.

Above: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)

Michelle Quinn Michelle Quinn (188 Posts)

Michelle Quinn is a Business Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. Prior to her current role, she was the Silicon Valley correspondent at Politico covering tech policy and politics. She has also covered the tech industry at the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. She was a blogger for the New York Times.