Teenagers are losing interest in Facebook and increasingly turning to alternatives like Twitter to connect with friends online, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center about social network usage and online privacy among teens. According to the Pew study, the vast majority of users (94 percent) still used Facebook to keep from missing out on the latest social news, and many took steps to keep online data private.
In a focus group held for the study, teens bemoaned the “drama” of Facebook, the stress of having to carefully select what photos and updates they shared, and most of all, the increasing presence of adults like Mom and Dad. Teens said they disliked the presence of adults on the world's largest social network, but 70 percent of respondents were Facebook friends with a parent, and many were friends with other adults in their lives such as a sports coach or a church leader.
Twitter usage up 50%, from 16% of online teens in 2011 to 24% in 2012
The study showed that the majority of teens using Twitter and Instagram reported it was easier to express themselves on those sites as they were free from the "social constraints" of Facebook. The study found online teens had a median of 300 Facebook friends and 79 Twitter followers. Teens used each social network differently; whereas both Twitter and Instagram were sought after to share with a smaller group of friends and peers, Twitter was used to keep up with teens' favorite celebrities. Teens used Instagram as a way to show rather than tell friends what they were doing.
74% of teens deleted someone from their friends list
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Researchers pointed out that teens in the study were generally aware of their reputation online, and did their best to “curate” their presence in social media. They were aware of privacy issues due to unwanted “friends,” and the majority took steps to remove at least one.
Teens were not as worried about third-party collection of data, as only 9% responded by saying they were “very concerned” with how private companies handled their personal data. Most teens (60 percent) reported keeping their profiles private, with 70 percent of girls and 50 percent of boys choosing to restrict profile views.
Only 18% of teens did not report limiting what certain friends can see on their Facebook profile
Despite disliking the increased amount of adult Facebook usage, most teens did not restrict their profiles so that family members and other adults could not see them. Rather, they carefully chose what to share and where. One teen told Pew researchers that Facebook was necessary to have an idea of “what’s going on” in the world.