Facebook popularity dropping among British youth

    Posted on February 1, 2019


    According to a report from Ofcom, the UK’s media regulating body, social media site Facebook experienced a dip in popularity among the nation’s youth during the last year.

    The media watchdog’s annual report, which takes a look at the services and devices the country’s kids are using, suggests that there has been a drop in the number of children aged between 12-15 using the site. The 2018 figure suggested that 72% of youths in this age category had a Facebook account, which was down from almost three quarters of the group a year earlier (74% in 2017).

    Furthermore, fewer kids are identifying Facebook as their ‘main’ social media account, with only 31% of this age group stating that Facebook was their go-to social network, in comparison with 40% last year.

    While Facebook seems to be on a downward trend, it is still the social site with the most users within this age group in the UK.

    However, the report suggests that photo-sharing platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is going in the opposite direction, with more children in this age category using it and identifying it as their main social network. The statistics show that almost a quarter of kids in this age range consider the photo app as their main platform (23%) – a sizeable jump from last year’s 14%.

    Instagram isn’t the only platform that is seeing a surge in popularity among the UK’s teens. Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp, picture-messaging app Snapchat and video site YouTube have all seen an increase in usage by this age group.

    However, microblogging site Twitter seems to be going in the same direction as Facebook, and is seeing fewer users within this age bracket, with trends showing this to be the case for a second successive year.

    The age group analysed may be confusing to some, as Facebook and several other social media sites do not allow people to join the network until they are 13 years of age. However, recent studies have shown as many as 18% of 8-11 year olds having a profile, with some even being set up after receiving consent from parents. Furthermore, Ofcom revealed that under a third of parents who knew that their children had social media accounts could correctly identify the minimum age limits on those social networks.

    The Ofcom annual report analyses the media usage of around 2,000 British children aged between 3 and 15. Research shows that 94% use televisions, although they are now spending less time using it to watch TV shows and are starting to spend more time streaming and using other integrated features.

    Ofcom also revealed statistics of media usage for two age categories: the 5-7s and the 12-15s. In the latter age group, 83% possessed their own smartphone, with 50% owning a tablet. Over half, 53%, used these mobile devices to access the internet, with 69% having a social media account and 89% stating that they watched YouTube videos.

    Alan Littler
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