Teens may be getting picky, but don’t count Facebook out yet


May 22, 2013

Teens may be getting picky, but don’t count Facebook out yet

This week, a Pew Research Center report found that teens are leaving Facebook for other social media platforms – particularly those not populated by parents as well. Two Cornell University researchers who have studied Facebook and social media say it’s too early to pull the plug on one of new media’s flagship properties.

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Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and of computer and information science at Cornell University, is a frequent social media analyst on national news shows and co-author of a landmark study on honesty in online communications. He says:

“Facebook’s attraction to youth is based in part on being connected, but also on being an ‘ingroup’ and ‘cool’ thing. To the degree that the cool of Facebook wears off, we should see some migration of teens to other platforms.

“People are unlikely to fully leave Facebook but simply to diversify their tools for accomplishing social interaction. Instead of Facebook being the Walmart of social media, it will become just one platform in a big ecology, including photo sharing with Instragram, broadcasting with Twitter, etc.”

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Eric P. S. Baumer, is a postdoctoral researcher in communication at Cornell, and the author of the highly noted “Fleeing Facebook” study presented earlier this month at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris. He says:

“In our work, my collaborators and I found frequent accounts of periodic, intentionally short-term Facebook hiatuses, as well as accounts of people who intended to leave permanently but later returned. Just because teens are limiting their Facebook use today doesn’t mean they won’t be coming back tomorrow or a year from tomorrow.

“This intermittent deactivation raises the point that Facebook use is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Yes, teens may be picking up other media, but I agree with the study in doubting that you’ll see a sudden mass exodus. Instead, I suspect you’ll see people using deactivation and other features to negotiate a more nuanced space between using Facebook incessantly and not having an account at all.”

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