Thirteen-year-old Gia from Virginia doesn’t find much to like about Facebook.
“She says she doesn't feel like she can be herself on Facebook, not just because her family is there, but 'everyone's family is on there,'” CNN's Gabriel Kinder reports.
Gia isn’t alone. In a CNN documentary, teenagers agreed that they barely use Facebook because their families are on the site.
Back in 2007, Facebook users couldn’t wait to post photographs or post updates about what they’ve been doing. Now, young social media users appear to be falling out of love with Facebook. A February 2013 report by survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that a growing number of young people are cutting back time spent on the social network.
Facebook acknowledged the challenge of keeping teens engaged in its 2013 annual 10-K report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In a list of the risk factors that could affect the company’s future success, Facebook stated:
“We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook. For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram. In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed.”
In an attempt to gain younger users, in 2012 Facebook acquired the mobile photo sharing app Instagram for $1 billion. The photo-sharing network had about 30 million users at the time of the buyout. Today there are more than 300 million people – most of them young – posting more than 60 million photos each day.
Taking Facebook's place among youth are Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Kik and Ask.fm. Recently, Facebook offered to acquire the mobile messaging app Snapchat for $3 billion, but the company refused.
Overall, Facebook continues to grow worldwide, with the number of users now well past one billion. According to company figures, the site had nearly 1.5 billion users who logged in at least once for the month of June 2015, and on average sees about 844 million daily users checking in on their phones.
But can Facebook manage without the support of teenagers?
In a blog post for the New York Times, Jenna Wortham writes, “if teenagers use Facebook less often, youth-oriented advertisers might spend less of their marketing budget on the site. And if teenagers are ultimately spending less time there, other users might follow suit, affecting the company’s overall potential for moneymaking.”