Variances in Social Media trends amongst Teenagers and Young Adults

In the past few month there has been many contradicting reports on which social network is the most popular among young adults and teens. While many claimed that younger users of Facebook are quitting the site and it is no longer the number one site for teenagers there were other reports that said the declining popularity of Facebook among its young users have been greatly exaggerated. In this week’s blog post we take a look at the variances in social media trends amongst teenagers and young adults, one of the most popular age groups on the internet. Let’s begin with a brief analysis of social media research articles and headlines that went viral during recent times.

The extensive UK study, the Global Social Media Impact and many articles written on various websites such as The Guardian and the Business Insider, claims that teenagers, one of the key demographics of Facebook is officially leaving the site. A UK academic, Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, leading an eight country, multi-city analysis of how Facebook is used, particularly among teenagers, in the study called Global Social Media Impact concludes

“What we’ve learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried. Mostly they feel embarrassed even to 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.”

According to the study and many articles based on the study the main reason for teens to quit Facebook were stated as parents and elders adapting the social network to pry on their social lives causing teens to seek out alternative hangouts.

The Pew Internet research states that 7 out of 10 teens are friends with their parents on Facebook. Although Facebook allows restricting access to a profile through settings, according to Pew Internet only 5% of teen users say they limit what their parents can see on their Facebook profiles and the vast majority allows full access to the information and updates they post on their page. Apart from increased adult presence other reasons for teens losing interest on Facebook has been stated as “people sharing excessively, and stressful drama”.

While researching on the social networking sites teenagers preferred over Facebook we found that Twitter was the favorite. Pew Internet states that 24% of online teens now use twitter, up from 16% in 2011. A report released in November 2013 by investment bank Piper Jaffray declares that the percentage of teens using Twitter overtook Facebook for the first time. Just 23% of teens now use Facebook, down from 33% in the spring, the survey found. Meanwhile, 26% of teens are on Twitter, compared with 30% back in the spring. The Guardian too reports that teens are moving from Facebook to services such as Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat.

However a study about social media that claims to be the biggest of its kind has found that Facebook’s decline among teenagers has been “greatly exaggerated” and despite the reports Facebook remains as the most popular social network among young people worldwide. GlobalWebIndex, a Singapore and UK based market research firm has published the study in January, 2014 based on 170,000 online interviews, across 32 countries representing 89% of the global internet population found that Facebook is used by almost half of 16-19 year olds around the world on a monthly basis.

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Other key highlights of the report include:

  • • After Facebook, Youtube is the most popular site used by 29% percent of 16- 19 year olds, while twitter ranks as the third most popular social network with 26% of 16- 19 year olds from around the world using it on a monthly basis. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)
  • • The research also showed usage rates of Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram have all increased signifying the increasing popularity and importance of social networking. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)
  • • It further states that 25-34 year olds make up the largest share of users in nearly all of the social networks surveyed rather than 16- 24 year olds. (Source: dailymail.co.uk)
  • • Twitter has been overtaken by Pinterest as the fastest-growing social platform worldwide (Source: nevillehobson.com)
  • • Google+ continues as the second most popular social platform in terms of active usage, with an estimated 318 million users worldwide. (Source: nevillehobson.com)
  • • 207 million Google+ users uploaded and shared photos by desktops, 104 million via smart phones and 60 million via tablets. Also, 112 million checked in at a location on desktops, compared to 72 million on smart phones and 38 million on tablets during Q2 nevillehobson.com (Source: nevillehobson.com)
  • • Mobile is driving much of the usage, with Twitter, Google+ and Facebook seeing the highest growth in actions taken on mobile devices. Clearly, though, the majority of usage still takes place on the desktop. (Source: nevillehobson.com)

With all these barrage of statistics, one thing becomes clear – it is incorrect to make sweeeping generalisations about how various groups use social media. While we can interpret statistics and an ongoing basis, given that social media is still a maturing industry, we need make allowances for regional, age and trend driven variances.

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