Are teens turning away from Facebook?

Focusing on interactions of patients rather than specific demographics of at-risk people is a major change from the traditional scientific approach. (AP)

WASHINGTON – Facebook accounts are so prevalent that the social media giant brags about its 1.1 billion users worldwide. But, the social media giant admits its seeing a decrease in daily usage among teens.

“Kids still have Facebook accounts, but they aren’t necessarily that excited about them anymore,” says Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher and the director of teens and technology research at the Pew Research Center.

She says they have noticed in past studies and recent focus groups that teens are showing fatigue when it comes to Facebook. They’re turning to other websites and apps, Lenhart says, because they feel they have to maintain a certain image on Facebook.

“There are a lot of different people on Facebook, including a lot of adults, parents, family members, people from your church — all of whom make it more complicated to be there,” Lenhart said.

“You have to be the same person to your mother as you do to your best friend as you do to your chemistry partner, and that isn’t how we operate in real life,” she said.

“I feel like my Facebook isn’t even me. It is what I want people to think, like adults who see it,” says Eloise, a ninth grader from D.C., when asked about why she has slowed down on her Facebook use.

So where are teens headed? Lenhart says Twitter usage has spiked among teens.

“It gives them a chance to have their voices be heard and participate in conversation in ways where people don’t really necessarily know how old they are. They get to have their ideas and kind of mill around in the soup of conversation that we have like adults do,” Lenhart said.

Kids are turning to sites, such as Tumblr, a blog-style site, and image-sharing platforms and apps such as Instagram (owned by Facebook) and SnapChat. SnapChat is popular because pictures sent on it are deleted after they’re viewed.

Instant messaging apps such as Kik and Whats App are growing as well. The services offer free text messaging and sharing of multimedia files among friends.

Will teens ditch Facebook altogether? Maybe. Grace, a ninth grader from the D.C., says, “I think Facebook will go out of style, kind of like MySpace.”

Lenhart says it’s here to stay.

“A lot of teens still have a lot of information and these big important networks on Facebook,” she says.

Some of the new sites and apps:

  • SnapChat
  • A photo-messaging application where a user can share photos among friends but control how many times a person can view it before it is deleted.

  • Instagram
  • An online photo- and video-sharing website, owned by Facebook, where users can apply digital filters to the content they upload.

  • Vine
  • A site that limits users to 6-second video clips that can be shared with other users on the site.

  • WhatsApp
  • A free smartphone-based instant messenger which also allows the sharing of pictures, videos and audio.

  • Kik
  • A popular text-messaging app available for smartphones that allows users to communicate without a text-messaging plan. Media files can also be shared in messages.

  • Tumblr
  • A micro-blogging website, owned by Yahoo, that allows users to post pictures and videos to a short-form blog.

  • Twitter
  • Post messages for the world to see in 140 characters or less.

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