Teens continue to flee Facebook, study shows

About 88 percent of teens use the social network, down from 94 percent the year prior, one study finds. But Facebook is also losing popularity in all other age groups.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read


Facebook is no longer as cool a place for teenagers to hang out, according to a new report.

The percentage of teens ages 13 to 17 who use Facebook in the United States fell to 88 percent this year, says a report based on a survey conducted by research firm Frank N. Magid Associates. That number revealed a drop from 94 percent in 2013 and 95 percent in 2012.

But use of Facebook also showed a decline among all the other age groups examined in the study. In total, Facebook's popularity dipped to 90 percent this year from 93 percent the past two years.

Facebook has been facing a negative impression that it's no longer the in-thing among teenagers. Other surveys have found that teens have been cutting back on their Facebook use in favor of other socially-networked sites, such as Instagram, which, ironically, is now owned by Facebook.

In October 2013, the company's Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said that daily Facebook use among younger teens declined from the second to the third quarter. Retaining the teenage market is important for Facebook not only to appear cool and vital but also to hang onto a younger audience to which it can sell products promoted on the site.

But others have dismissed any concerns that Facebook is losing appeal among teens. In November of 2013, Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg said "the vast majority of US teens are on Facebook, and the majority of US teens use Facebook almost every day." A survey from research firm Forrester conducted this past June found that Facebook was still the favorite social network among more than 4,500 teens (aged 12 to 17) polled in the US.

Still, there are reasons Facebook may not be as popular as it once was among the teen crowd and people in general, according to Frank N. Magid's survey. Among all of those polled, 16 percent said Facebook was trendy, 18 percent said it was fun and 16 percent said it was informative. But only 9 percent said it was safe and 9 percent said it was trustworthy.

Facebook has often gotten into trouble over privacy issues. The site has been criticized in the past for adding or changing certain features or revising its privacy policy in ways that triggered concerns that user privacy was not being considered. The company has attempted to be more sensitive to such concerns, but clearly people are still wary, according to the Magid survey.

So if teens and adults aren't on Facebook as much, what are they doing online? The poll found an increase in popularity among instant messaging apps. Among those surveyed, 18 percent use Snapchat, 17 percent use Apple's iMessage, 9 percent use WhatsApp and another 9 percent use Google Hangouts.

What was the most popular messsging app? Facebook Messenger among 40 percent of those polled.

Conducted this past September, Magid's survey reached 1,934 people, but only smartphone users were polled. Facebook itself holds more than 1 billion users worldwide, so the survey numbers represent a tiny fraction of the total population.

Facebook declined to comment on the survey.