Facebook appeal fading for many US teens as Twitter’s popularity almost doubles

22 May 2013

Image via Samo Trebizan/Shutterstock

A report from the Pew Research Centre based on a survey of 802 US teenagers aged 12 to 17 reveals that the youth’s interest in Facebook is waning as use of Twitter grows, but teens will hold onto their Facebook profiles for the sake of their social lives.

Results from the survey, conducted as part of Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, show that online teens’ use of Twitter has grown from 16pc in 2011 to 24pc in 2012.

Focus group discussions revealed that interest in Facebook was fading due to an increasing adult presence, over-sharing by other users and ‘drama’ on the social network. However, teens were sure they would continue to use Facebook because it’s a key element of their social lives.

The average teen Facebook user has 300 friends, while the typical teen Twitter user has 79 followers.

On Facebook, 60pc of teen users have their profiles set to private whereas Twitter is more open, with 64pc of teen users operating public accounts (12pc did not know if their Twitter profile was public or private).

Share and share alike

The information shared on social networks by teenagers has changed over the past six years as young internet users become more comfortable sharing personal details online.

In 2006, 79pc of teen social media users shared photos of themselves, 61pc shared the names of their hometowns, 49pc shared their schools’ names, 29pc their email addresses, and 2pc their mobile phone numbers. Now, all of this information is more likely to be shared by teen social media users, with 91pc sharing photos of themselves, 71pc apiece sharing the names of their schools and hometowns, 53pc sharing their email addresses, and 20pc sharing their phone numbers.

Older teens aged 14 to 17 are more willing to share personal information than their younger counterparts, while boys are almost twice as likely to share their phone number than girls.

Focus group discussions were divided on the topic of automatic location-sharing, which 16pc of teen social media users had enabled. Many believe this level of sharing is unnecessary and unsafe, while others say it’s a useful way of letting friends and parents know where they are.

Speaking of parents, 70pc of Facebooking teens have added their parents as friends and only 5pc said they limit what their parents can see, with 81pc saying their parents and friends can see the same information.

Teens online image via Samo Trebizan/Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.