Facebook Sometimes Too Much 'Drama' for Teens, Study Says

PHOTO: A teen looks at the Facebook website on his laptop, May 15, 2013.Newscom
A teen looks at Facebook on his laptop, May 15, 2013.

Teens on Facebook are increasingly friending other social media sites as their enthusiasm for the service wanes, according to a new survey.

A Pew study shows that teenage users have been moving some of their online sharing to other social media services like Twitter and Instagram to escape the "drama and pressure" of Facebook. The study does still list Facebook as the most often used service (81 percent of teens answered this way) and number one for active accounts (94 percent of teens said they currently have a Facebook profile).

  • A recently released Pew study shows that teenage users have been moving some of their online sharing to other social media services like Twitter and Instagram to escape the "drama and pressure" of Facebook.

Of the teens surveyed, 26 percent said they have a Twitter account, but only 7 percent said it's their most used profile. Still, Pew shows that, among their sample, active teen Twitter accounts have grown 14 percent from the year earlier (12 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012), while Facebook only grew 1 percent (93 percent in 2011 to 94 percent in 2012).

"The [social media] platform transitions story is a really interesting one," Mary Madden, senior researcher with the Pew Internet Project, told ABC News. "Our findings suggest that teens are supplementing their Facebook use and shifting their energies, rather than completely abandoning the site."

Madden explained that teens have traditionally been the early adopter demographic, but Twitter was first colonized by adults. Now teens seem to be looking to other platforms to find a break from the "social burden" of Facebook, showing services like Twitter a bit more attention.

Eleven percent of teens said they now have an account with social photo sharing community Instagram (the service didn't appear on the 2011 Pew survey) and 5 percent have a Tumblr media blog account (up from 2 percent in 2011). Madden also said that messaging service Snapchat was mentioned "repeatedly" in focus groups related to the survey.

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"While Facebook is still deeply integrated in teens' everyday lives, it is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own," said Madden.

"We are always focused on making Facebook a great experience; and we're gratified that more than 1 billion people, including enormous numbers of young people, are using Facebook to connect and share," a spokesperson for Facebook told ABC News.

Facebook CFO David Ebersman also made remarks on the topic of teen users during an earning's call earlier this month.

"The urban legend [that Facebook is losing younger users] flows more often than not from surveys people have done of younger users that indicate that they're using other social services…but our sense is that much of the concern stems from the assumption that this is a zero-sum game and that's not how we see it," said Ebersman. "We think the overall amount of time spent on services that enable you to connect and share is growing and will continue to grow."

The Pew survey also asked teens who they "friend" online and if they prefer to keep their posts private.

Of those surveyed, 60 percent of teen Facebook users said they keep their profiles private. Seventy percent admitted to being Facebook friends with their parents, and only 5 percent said they filter which posts their parents can see.

Only 24 percent of teen Twitter users said they keep their tweets private.

Another trend in the study linked the number of Facebook friends a teen has with the likelihood he or she is using additional social networking services. Thirteen percent of teen Facebook users with fewer than 150 friends also had a Twitter account, and of those with more than 600 Facebook friends, 46 percent had a Twitter account.

"Ultimately, teens, like adults, are finding ways to "diversify" their social media portfolio for different purposes," Madden said. "In some cases, it helps them to compartmentalize smaller groups of friends and certain kinds of interactions. In other cases, the newer platforms are appealing for the features and functionality they offer."