You've probably heard it already: New numbers from iStrategyLabs indicate that in the apparent reversal of the plot of any '90s-era kiddie caper flick, grown-ups are taking over Facebook.
According to iStrategyLabs, from January to July of 2009, even though the population of Facebook members over the age of 55 grew 513.7 percent, the site now sees 16.5 percent fewer high-school users, and 21.7 percent fewer college users. Which, naturally, is cause for panic because when the cool kids leave it's all totally over. Or so the common wisdom says.
A BusinessWeek blog post has the right idea: Take a look at the methodology. iStrategyLabs did not actually survey Facebook members, it just looked at their affiliations. The downturn means that Facebook users are dropping their university and high-school affiliations, not that they're leaving the site per se. And that could mean one of a few things: as the BusinessWeek post points out, it coincides well with spring graduations from high schools and colleges, and some members undoubtedly drop those affiliations when they graduate.
Another theory that's been tossed around is that university and high-school affiliations can make it easy for administrators and teachers--not to mention parents--to keep tabs on kids and their shenanigans. Not joining networks can make a profile more incognito.
It's also important to note that these statistics come solely from Facebook's U.S. users, who now make up less than a third of its total membership.
And there's no related shrinkage shown in Facebook's age demographics that typically encompass high-school and college students--members under 17 are up 24.2 percent, and those aged 18-24 are up 4.8 percent. Just a smidge, but not a plummet by any means.
So this is a set of numbers to take with enough grains of salt to put around the rim of a margarita--but just think twice before you put the photo of you drinking that margarita on Facebook. Those sneaky adults could be watching.