Are you ‘friends’ with your mom on Facebook or with your friends’ moms perhaps? Facebook’s demographics have been leaning towards the 45+ age group for a while, but it now seems as though youngsters are abandoning the ubiquitous social network for sites that are more relevant to their personal interests. There are several possible reasons for this, but I’d guess that reading mom’s ‘share this if you love Jesus’ updates is starting to take its toll. Not to mention the constant pressure to moderate statuses in case mom or friends’ moms take offence.
An article on USAToday cites Jake Katz, chief architect at market research firm YPulse, who says that the increasing presence of moms on Facebook has cost the social network its ‘cool’ factor.
Moms love Facebook because it helps them stay in touch with their kids who live far away. I think of South African moms in particular whose children are spread out in Australia, the UK, Canada and the United States. Phone calls are expensive, plane tickets more so; Facebook is great for bridging the gap and allowing moms, grans, kids and grandkids to peek into each other’s daily lives.
(This also why moms like Skype)
But this limits kids’ freedom to express what they really feel.
Escaping from mom isn’t the only relief
Moms aren’t entirely to blame for Facebook’s sliding popularity. Rising niche social networks are poaching kids left, right and centre. Niche networks appeal to targeted personal interests, and are often more egotistically gratifying (fewer people means more publicised communication) than large, general platforms.
According to the USAToday article, kids are spreading themselves around on several niche networks, using different outlets to meet their varying needs.
One can see the attraction: kids can project different sides of their personalities on the different networks. They can, in essence, be different people; which spares a hardcore Goth embarrassing questions about why he also ‘likes’ Justin Bieber, Tinkerbell and pictures of rainbows and sunsets.
Facebook isn’t down and out
Why would it be, really? It’s still growing, even if the rate of growth has slowed down. And it’s still innovating, divvying up its products to suit different mobile trends and needs. Apparently, it’s also looking at ways to make the site more pre-teen friendly. Which is just what kids need; to be friends with their mom and their little brother.
(Image by Gian, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr)