Study: Kids No Longer Into Social Networking

By Josh Catone
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An annual study of British youths between the ages of 13 and 17 by Logicalis found that social network use is on the decline. The study found that 78% of British youngsters using social networks no longer disclose personal information and are becoming more savvy about their digital fingerprint. On its own that’s great news as it means fews youths who will fall victim to online predators.

But that might be bad news for social networks. The study found that many youths have stopped using social networking sites all together, and that a majority say they prefer face-to-face communication with peers than communications over sites like Facebook, which is the most popular social network in the UK. 46% say that social networking has become less important to them, and that they are using online social networks less frequently.

Of 11.3 million Brits using Facebook, 13-17 year olds make up just 873,000 of them. However, 18-25 year old make up nearly 5 million British Facebook users, suggesting that use at post-secondary schools in Britain is high, as it is in the United States where I attended university (and having a Facebook account was a rite of passage). It will be interesting to see if the trends that suggest less interest in social networking among the youngest users continue once they hit university age.

Young web users have always been a fickle set. From Geocities and Tripod, to Friendster, to MySpace, to Facebook, young social networking users have often left a trail of sites in their wake as they jump to the new hip thing. Is social networking itself about the get the boot by young users? Logicalis thinks so, dubbing these young users the so-called “Realtime Generation” after their preference of face-to-face communication over digital chatting.

Note: There was some talk this past winter about a down turn in Facebook traffic in the UK, but that turns out to be mostly seasonal.

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  • I think we all know what happens. I wouldn’t even call it a “generation” issue – just an age group. A few years ago, the age groups who were in High or Secondary School/University tried out Friendster, sometime before/after they were leaving Uni, MySpace picked up, and they joined that, then when Facebook showed up, some of the “younger” kids who were now in High or Secondary School/Uni joined Facebook, and so did some of the former Friendster > MySpace people, but not everyone.

    Basically if another social networking site piques the interest of the “next age group”, it will turn into the next FriendsFaceSpace. Some of them may fall into the transitional period – the period when one social networking site is dying, and another is picking up, and they may join Facebook before joining whatever is new. Then Friendster and MySpace plateau, and eventually end up the way of Geocities and Tripod.

    The macro-view of all this is: It’s a fad. Not the business idea of creating a social networking site, but the brands are fads. Friendster is as good as last decade’s news. MySpace is on its way to that plateau, and when the next big thing pops up, so will Facebook as well.

  • XLcowboys,

    FriendsFaceSpace – I like that :) … yes, the trend cycle of this social thing is pretty fast. The next big things are always on the horizon.

    Saying this, I still believe social bookmarking is still hot as long as it involves more personal interaction between members.

    IMO, social bookmarking will always appeal both kids and adults.

  • SP360

    Who cares about 13-17 year olds. Those kids are useless and dont convert any cash for webmasters. When they get older, they eventually get back to Social Networking sites to see pictures of parties they missed etc. or chat with class mates and so on, so in my opinion, its a good thing these 13-17 year olds are off of social networks.

  • Fernando

    If using Facebook or Myspace to define social media, then I can agree there is a decline. Both services are a mess of widgets and gadgets disguised as applications. They serve no purpose to a younger, more tech savvy audience.

  • Thats funny. Yeah every kid has either gone on myspace or facebook or some type of social networking website before in their life.I have been doing social networking for about 2 years or more and i can tell that alot of my friends aren’t doing myspace, or facebook anymore. Kids just got sick of it you know? There were to many users that got addicted to it and didnt do anything else beside myspace or facebook. And after while the kids were like omg this sucks its so boring waiting for ur new Information to pop up saying you have a new message or you have a new wall to wall Message.But this is a good post Im intrested in what is going to be next. Hm, i wander if someone is gonna come out with something new that attracts the younger crowd to make them want to use their service. Its intresting to see what .com website is gonna be big in the next years. WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF new age programming. :)

  • ruby-lang

    I think kids don’t see much use because it’s easy to meet their friends face to face or at least call them. After all, most are neighbors, relatives, or schoolmates. As they get older and their social networks become more complex, they will join a site.

  • @ruby-land and SP360: I think the point, though, is that the study implies that these kids used to be more avid users of social networking and have since stopped.

    Anecdotally, I have also noticed many of my friends in my age group (I’m 25 years old) begin to shy away from online social networks and rely more on phone, email, face-to-face and even snail mail for communication. The most common reason for why they’ve canceled their MySpace and Facebook accounts: social networking is a time sink.

  • Dan

    I don’t think its a question of kids liking social networks or not, I think they just hear about all these sites, try them out (and so they appear in the statistics) but then they get bored and move onto the next fad because 11/10 social network sites are piles of poop.

    18-30 year-olds on the other hand pick one service which they like the best, and stick with it and actually use it.

  • I only use Facebook now and then to post photos and accept friend requests.

    I never really got the hype of it at all – and, let’s face it, if you want a life then you should live it properly.

    Want to keep up with friends and family? Yeah mr A.G.Bell and mr K.Benz invented your solutions a long time ago.

  • The most common reason for why they’ve canceled their MySpace and Facebook accounts: social networking is a time sink.

    On top of that, prestigious universities (Cambridge & Oxford) have been known to research people who apply (Why I cancelled my bEbo, but not facebook).

    On the internet your personality is amplified many times over for one simple reason. We have to express ourselves using just images and text, make a profile of ourselves.

    As a teen myself, I know that image is VITAL in today’s world. People are associated with groups – Chavs + Gangsters, Emos, Goths + Greebos, Geeks + Nerds, and tyical intellegent people. I’m in the latter, and it offers more freedom over who we are – I dress in a shirt and jeans, others may dress completely different. In other social groups, you need to dress to suit.

    So, that’s what happens on Social Networking sites – people have their personallity portrayed at an amplified volume, to please their social group.

    Of course, this doesn’t really portray the person themselves, and looking back on them you’d think ‘What the hell was I thinking?’. That’s what the unis think too – this person is obviously immature, depressed, violent etc.

    That’s the big flaw with social networking. People make a false image of themselves to show to the rest of the world.

  • SSJ

    That’s really a very bad news for social networking sites and also who are planning to build the social sites.

    Affordable website design and development India

  • seba

    I think the reason for this to happen is that teenagers spend more and more time on the internet.
    And the current social networks are you just not entertaining enough.
    Go for a 3 hour period on myspace and you’ll be bored to hell, it’s nothing more than waiting for anything to happen.
    Facebook has the advantage of the applications that bring some extra ‘fun’ in.
    But the things that are already working for years are things where you don’t need to wait for interaction.
    So you need to find something that can be interesting for hours and hours (like some popular online (text-based) games).

  • Wfougere

    I will agree with this post as to some fall off of users of Facebook but facebook is just a tiny piece of social media. My research always shows Facebook as #3 – #5 in usage with Twitter and Blogging almost always well ahead. It’s all about connecting with people you have some trust in. Ever since I got my Android phone I seldom open my computer at home as everything is in one place/ app on my phone. (Just some random observations)

    • You do realize this is 3 years old right? And that FB has the most users… lol