Teens are actually getting fed up with Facebook, according to a report released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. The study surveyed 802 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 last September about their Facebook use. An article was written about the report’s findings by the Huffington Post on May 21 of this year.
The report’s findings are no doubt troubling to Facebook, given that the teen demographic has long been crucial to its massive success. The root of the “problem” (which is most likely what Facebook’s investors are calling it) is spelled out thus in the report of the study:
“Facebook has become a ‘social burden‘ for teens. While Facebook is still deeply integrated in teens’ everyday lives, it is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own. Facebook, teens say, has been overrun by parents, fuels unnecessary social “drama” and gives a mouthpiece to annoying oversharers who drone on about inane events in their lives.”
The Huffington Post summed up another important part of the study:
“They’re deleting, lying and blocking- Some three-quarters of Facebook users have purged friends on Facebook, 58 percent have edited or deleted content they’ve shared and 26 percent have tried to protect their privacy by sharing false information. Among all teens online (not just Facebook users), 39 percent have lied about their age.”
Another interesting find of the Pew study is that the typical teen has approximately 300 Facebook “friends.” But exactly who are these friends? Well, seventy percent of teens are friends with their parents, 30 percent are friends with teachers or coaches, and 33 percent are friends with people they’ve never met in person.
In some ways, the results are surprising- most people, teens and adults alike, have Facebook pages. In fact, a majority of the teens in the study, including those that complained about the site, still maintain pages on it. Some said that they continue using the site because they want to stay up on the social scene. Yet, as the study clearly shows, a large portion of their Facebook social circles are not real-life friends. A second possible reason for continued use of the site, though not suggested in the report, could be peer-pressure. Teens are very sensitive to what their peers say and do, and feel that if they don’t follow the crowd, they will be socially penalized by way of bullying or simple exclusion from peer activities, such as parties and dating.
To adults who have either never used the site, have an account but use it rarely, or have had accounts and deleted them, the news comes as no surprise. These adults often give the same reasons as the teens in the study for their own lack of interest in Facebook. Which begs the question- is Facebook just a failed social experiment, or is it here to stay? It seems society (and the social media industry) has yet to fully understand the human mind enough to properly predict how it will respond to new technology. After all, we didn’t exactly evolve to meet and interact with each other using machines.