A report from market research agency Conquest into the social media habits of 14-24 year olds claims that Facebook's core audience - teenagers - are starting to fall out of love with the website and that activity may have peaked amid a groundswell of dissatisfaction and concerns over privacy and even bullying.
While Facebook is most surely top dog for the short term, "Fuicide" (deleting the Facebook account) is on the rise as are claims about the damaging impact of regular and prolonged Facebook use. Grievances triggered by Facebook's culture include obsession with appearance and acceptance of sexually provocative behavior; increased negative self esteem, vulnerability to bullying, depression caused by jealousy and comparing one's life to peers and inability to project one's true self.
In other words, the same problems teens have had for thousands of years, but now we can blame social media.
Their evidence, gleaned from 300 regular Facebook users aged between 14 and 24 years old, equally balanced by gender and nationally representative on region:
- Over 30% of the group surveyed have had sufficiently bad experiences online to recently attempt or succeed in deleting their accounts, with 13% of regular users planning to lower their presence over the coming 12 months.
- Concerns about privacy, bullying and Facebook 'making me feel down about life' are the most cited reasons
- Specifically, vulnerability to bullying was stated by 44% as reason for feeling unhappy about using the site, as well as increased negative self esteem (28%); depression sparked by unfavorable comparisons with other people's lives (25%); and plain jealousy of others (24%).
- Nearly half of all young women (45%) felt that Facebook intensifies an obsession with appearance. Moreover, 33% of males concurred, with over a quarter stating that it boosts the acceptance of sexually provocative presentation.
- A growing frustration was articulated with the Facebook culture's inability to enable authentic expression of character. This is offset by young men's relish at the opportunity afforded to exaggerate the facts about themselves, with 44% admitting to this.
- Young women claim to suffer more from the adverse effects of Facebook than their male counterparts with more female deleters and complainants of harmful consequences.
New and different sites like Pinterest have experienced growth in 2012 while Myspace has remained a stalwart for the musically minded. It may be that niche networks are the future of social media, rather than one very large site.