Teens Dropping Social Nets for Social Apps

Data from a number of surveys suggests that teenagers are leaving social networks like Facebook in favor of social apps. The latest study comes from Project Tomorrow, a non-profit organization focused on digital technology for education, which recently released the results of its 2013 survey of 325,279 K-12 students across the U.S.

According to the Project Tomorrow survey, in 2013 just 30% of middle school students and 39% of high school students said they are maintaining a profile on a social networking site (read: Facebook). That’s a decrease of approximately 40% since 2009, the report notes. The drop in social network use has been accompanied by a rise in social apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine, which are now used by 44% of students in grades 6-12.

Text messaging is also on the rise, according to Project Tomorrow, used by two thirds of students in grades 6-12 in 2013, up 37% from 2008. Meanwhile 28% of middle school students said they are making and posting videos, and 12% said they have their own blog. 38% of this age group said they stream online TV shows, and 23% of middle school students regularly play massively multi-player online games.

As noted, these data echo the results of some other surveys. Last week I wrote about a survey of 7,500 teens by Piper Jaffray which found that 30% of teens ranked Instagram their most important social network, ahead of Twitter at 27% and Facebook at 23%. These are all big changes from the results of a previous Piper Jaffray survey a year ago, when 33% of teen respondents chose Facebook as their most important social network, compared to 30% for Twitter and just 17% for Instagram.

In January, iStrategyLabs, drawing on data from Facebook’s social advertising platform, found that the number of Americans ages 13-17 using Facebook declined 25.3% from 13.1 million in January 2011 to 9.8 million in January 2014, while the number of users ages 18-24 declined 7.5% from 45.4 million to 42 million over the same period.

And survey by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future and Bovitz, Inc. found that roughly one in three (30%) Facebook users believe they will be using the service less within the next five years. Within this group, 40% say they use Twitter, while Instagram is also growing fast, especially among millennials.

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