An extensive European study concluded that teens are abandoning Facebook in droves, in large part because their parents are now using the network.
"Facebook is not just on the slide — it is basically dead and buried," writes Daniel Miller, professor of Material Culture at University College, London and the study's lead author, in a blog entry of his own work with 16-18 year olds in the UK. "Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it."
At least in the U.K., teens are migrating to a bevy of social tools, including Snapchat, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram for different purposes to reach a wider or tighter group of friends as well as strangers.
The shift comes despite teens agreeing the replacement networks are "no match for [Facebook] in terms of functionality." Facebook gets high marks for its ability to arrange photos, organize parties and observe people's relationships.
The migration also isn't seen as a statement against data gathering or corporate privacy intrusions, but more about parental intrusion.
"You just can't be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion," writes Prof. Miller. "The desire for the new, also drives each new generation to find their own media and this is playing out now in social media."
The study added to the debate around whether Facebook, built on teens and college students, needs teenagers. Facebook admitted in its October earnings call that the company was losing favor with teens, specifically daily active users.
Beyond losing advertisers looking to reach teens, the quick demise of MySpace concerns some about what could happen when a network loses its teen base. The counterargument points to the benefits for Facebook reaching mainstream.
Selena Larson writes on ReadWrite.com: "Facebook is attempting to become a platform for finding and sharing news and current events, not just for interacting with friends. Recent updates to the social network have aimed to create a news feed that isn't filled with memes and selfies — and that's thus more meaningful."
At this point in its development, how much does Facebook need its teen base?