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A smartphone with a Facebook app open. / Photo by: Johan Larsson via Wikimedia Commons

 

A Pew survey of 743 American teens with ages from 13 to 17 years revealed that Facebook is no longer the social network of choice among adolescents, according to Will Oremus, writing for Slate. 

The social network, hounded by a string of controversies as of late, was surpassed by YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat as the sites most favored by American teenagers. The survey found out that only 51 percent of those surveyed use Facebook nowadays as compared to 71 percent in 2015. Those who are still using Facebook come from lower-income families while usage from households with an income of US$75,000 or more is just 36 percent. 

Such numbers do not signal Facebook’s demise because it still has an important purpose across the globe. Many adults in the U.S still use the site, even if a lot of their offspring have abandoned it. But it continues to grow, especially in Third World countries. 

It does, however, raise a warning for Facebook to overcome challenges posed by Snapchat and YouTube. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2017 a shift in focus from passive consumption of news and media to meaningful interactions with friends and family. But if teens are used as an indicator of the progress made by Facebook in effecting such a change, it appears that they have not been successful. The survey shows teens prefer YouTube for passive consumption, Instagram and Snapchat for self-expression and social interaction.

All is not lost for Facebook because it owns Instagram, which is very much holding its own. But it is still a matter of concern for Facebook to know that just 15 percent of teens admit that they spend more time on Instagram than on the other platforms.