Much has been made in the tech and social media news circles regarding Facebook’s eventual demise because teenagers don’t make up a large group on the social network. Brittany Darwell, co-editor of sister site Inside Facebook, wrote that just because teenagers aren’t on Facebook now doesn’t mean that they won’t sign up in the future.
Teenagers don’t need News Feed to figure out what’s going on in their friends’ lives. They chat enough at school and after school. Additionally, in high school, they don’t really have many circles of friends, like they will in college and later in life. So it’s not too surprising that teens aren’t on Facebook — there’s not really a need for them to have accounts. Plus, their moms are also on Facebook now.
Darwell discussed how teens already have News Feed and Timeline natively in their own lives, but instead seek ways to keep live conversation going, through text messages and applications such as Snapchat:
Teens are also looking for safe spaces for self-expression as they start to explore their own identities. Facebook, with its feeling of permanence from Timeline and Graph Search, plus the fact that parents and teachers are also on the service, is not the ideal channel for this. That’s why Instagram and Tumblr are so popular with teens. They aren’t tied back to profiles with their real names and everyone they know. They’re places for experimentation and reinvention, in a way that LiveJournal, MySpace, or chat rooms might have been for people who are adults now but grew up with the Internet. Most teens just want to be cool, and Facebook hasn’t made being cool a priority as it went after its first billion users.
But Facebook will be there once teenagers go from high school to college and their social circles double. They’re going to want some place to keep up with friends who are going to schools far away, as well as a site where they can easily connect with their new buddies in Psychology 101. As they grow up, teens will become adults who may actually want to get in touch with relatives, and won’t be focused on the “coolness” of being on the same social network as their parents.
That’s when they’ll join Facebook, Darwell claims.
Readers: What do you think?
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