Leave it to a 13 year-old to tell us how things really are. In this article, I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook, on Mashable.com, Ruby Karp explains how teens now see Facebook. It is no secret that Facebook has been losing part of its youngest demographic. They have been making up for these loses with additions from the older generations, but as we all know, without the youth on-board, Facebook’s future is not looking so bright. We are really impressed how Ruby was able to explain Facebook’s problems in such simple terms. For example:
Part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now. When I was 10, I wasn’t old enough to have a Facebook. But a magical thing called Instagram had just come out … and our parents had no idea there was an age limit. Rapidly, all my friends got Instagrams.
We think this is an often overlooked fact. People seem to forget that when Facebook came out, the teens of today were not allowed to have accounts. Of course, when a teen is told they can’t have something, it makes them want it even more. However, now that this group is old enough to have a Facebook account, they have already moved on to the latest and coolest platform, as Ruby explains:
Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.
Facebook is now so popular with the parents, and even grandparents, of today that kids don’t want to be involved. Besides the obvious fact that what parents do is never “cool”, teens are afraid of the Big Brother effect Facebook can have. With people constantly sharing and over-sharing every aspect of their lives on Facebook, it is only a matter of time before a teen’s parent or grandparent sees something they shouldn’t have. Ruby perfectly sums that up by saying:
All of our parents and parents’ friends have Facebooks. It’s not just the fact that I occasionally get wall posts like, “Hello sweetie pie!” But my friends post photos that get me in trouble with those parents.
Imagine your own teenage years if your parents could see your every move online, pretty scary thought huh? No matter what they are doing, innocent or not, no teenager wants their parents in on every aspect of their lives, and if not having a Facebook account can help keep that secrecy, the choice is obvious.
The final topic that Ruby brings up is Facebook’s ever-changing interface:
Look at something like Twitter, where it’s four buttons — people like the “simple” design better. In the end, Facebook has been trying too hard. Teens hate it when people try too hard; it pushes them away. It’s like if my mom told me not to do something — I immediately need to do it. When she forces something on me, I really don’t want to do it.
We all get annoyed when Facebook updates their platform and overhauls the user interface. Just like Ruby said, we like simple and we like familiar. Every time Facebook makes you relearn how to use their platform, it turns people off and forces them to other, more simple, platforms.
Will Facebook figure out a way to win back the teens? We think they probably will. You don’t get to where Facebook is without being able to adapt and solve problems. It will be very interesting to see how they do it, and what tactics they will use. Social media is built on trends, and nowhere is trending more important than with teenagers.
-Mike & Samantha