Some teens and tweens are breaking up with Facebook, as its use in these age groups will actually decline this year. Research company eMarketer notes that Facebook will grow by 2.4 percent in the U.S. in 2017, and will be actively used by 172.9 million people. While its use is growing, that growth is coming largely from older adults. Younger people have cooled on the platform. Its use by 12- to 17-year-oldds will decline this year by 3.4 percent. eMarketer notes this is the first time it has ever predicted a decline on Facebook for any age group. While Facebook use will grow for those under 12 or between 18 and 24, those groups are growing more slowly than researchers previously thought.
This hardly spells doom for Facebook: Those young users are shifting their time to Snapchat and Instagram, instead, and one of those is owned by Facebook. These visual platforms are a better fit for the way young people today communicate, says eMarketer forecasting analyst Oscar Orozco.
“Outside of the Facebook-cutters, teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged—logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform,” Orozco says. “At the same time, we now have Facebook-nevers, many children aging into the tween demographic that appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram.”
Facebook’s share of total social network users is also set to decline. Its biggest declines will come from 12- to 17-year-olds, where 81.9 percent will use Facebook in 2017 but only 76.2 percent will in 2021.
eMarkter sees gains coming for both Snapchat and Instagram. Snapchat will grow 25.8 percent this year and be actively used by 79.2 million people in the U.S. Instagram will grow 23.8 percent and be actively used by 85.5 million. Instagram has more users, but Snapchat is stronger with those between the ages of 12 and 24. Finally, some good news for troubled Snapchat.