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Teens abandon Facebook as adults begin to log on

Date

Georgie Stone

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Takeover: Holly Gleave watches as her mother Sue indulges her social media habit.

Takeover: Holly Gleave watches as her mother Sue indulges her social media habit.

The ''get my parents off Facebook'' and ''OMG my grandma has Facebook'' pages are a thing of the past as people over the age of 30 become the social networking site's largest user demographic.

In what is described as the ''Levi's Effect'', social media expert Michael McQueen said teenagers were abandoning Facebook for other social networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

''Levi jeans were a cool, young brand - until parents started wearing them - and the same thing has happened with Facebook,'' Mr McQueen said.

In 2012, Facebook was the primary social networking site for teenagers but this year Twitter has overtaken that position. Now, only 23 per cent of Australian teenagers consider Facebook as the most important social networking source.

And as teens log-off from Facebook, Mr McQueen said people aged 30 and over were logging-in.

''The older generation began signing up in 2010 and, originally, a lot of these users were parents who wanted to spy on their kids,'' he said. ''But now they are reconnecting with old school friends and people who live overseas and they have caught the Facebook bug.''

Sue Gleave joined Facebook before her 19-year-old daughter, Holly. ''She spends more time on Facebook than I do,'' Holly said.

Ms Gleave has 350 friends and 42 Facebook pages related to her tourism business Stays in the Vines.

''I joined Facebook in 2006 because, prior to that, I had been living in England for 20 years and I wanted to stay in contact with all my friends. From a business point of view, Facebook also helps me with marketing and with increasing the visibility of my business on Google,'' Ms Gleave said.

Professor of Public Communication at the University of Technology, Jim Macnamara, said adults also turn to Facebook while on holidays.

A survey conducted by Princess Cruises found 32 per cent of parents aged over 50 shared their travel stories and photos through Facebook and only 28 per cent still sent postcards.

''Before Facebook, tourists would go to the postcard stand and try to find the most magnificent looking card, maybe to make people jealous, but mostly to share their stories. Now they have Facebook and it's exactly the same only these stories are shared instantly,'' he said.

Social media expert from Deakin University, Ross Monaghan, said the change in the way in which travellers are communicating with their loved ones should be embraced because it avoids the dreaded slide night.

''Twenty years ago families would face the torture of slide nights but Facebook is the new slide show and we can look at these pictures when we want to,'' Mr Monaghan said.

When CFO David Ebersman said Facebook was seeing a slight decrease in usage by younger teens, roughly $18 billion was wiped off the company's market value.

All experts agree that Facebook will need to find new ways to reinvent itself to encourage use across all age demographics.

A lament from teenager Felicity Light

Mum, dad, get off Facebook!

''Dad, can you drop me off at work tonight?''

No response.

''Dad, can you drive me to work?''

I look up from the breakfast table and I see dad's Facebook news feed reflected in his glasses.

It's a situation I am finding myself in a lot, because my parents are more addicted to social media than I am.

It can be any number of settings: walking down the street and realising dad is five paces behind me, not watching where he is going because his eyes are glued to the screen. At home, I'll ask mum how her day was and get ''Oh my god, look at what so and so did today!''

Teenagers whose parents are on Facebook often leave their friend requests ominously unclicked. The brave ones will accept them as friends, but others are not so sure they want their mum and dad to know what they get up to. My parents have been on Facebook for a while now and I have them both as friends. Neither of them really check up on what I'm doing but I often get the random comment on a photo such as, ''so proud of you, baby!'' or ''you look so beautiful''.

But it's only lately I've noticed how addicted they have become.

It's one thing to realise they're not listening when you talk but you know they're obsessed when they start uploading selfies. Last week a friend handed me his phone to show me an Instagram pic of my dad in his apartment lift, a classic mirror selfie. I scrolled through my mum's photos on her phone to see her selfies with friends and even celebrities at the Melbourne Cup. I found one of her ''peacing and pouting'', which I uploaded to Instagram, and it raked in more likes than my last photo.

I'm not a massive status updater but mum will do one at least every two days. When I was away with friends, one called out to me from the kitchen, ''Is your mum OK - have you seen her status?'' And that's how I found out she had gone to hospital with a broken rib.

My mum and I once had a fight and we ended up apologising over Facebook and all was well.

Friends are in the same boat. Emma Potts, 19, says: ''I didn't accept my mum's request at first but then she made me feel bad for not adding her. She would say 'I'm not going to look at what you're up to' but now always comments on my photos. She also has a habit of uploading photos of me from primary school with captions like, 'My little princess has grown up so quick!' She also communicates via Facebook at home together, so she'll start a chat with me being, like, 'dinner's ready!' It's so bad!''

Seriously, the parents of today!

82 comments

  • We tried to tell them, but they didn't want to listen.

    Any number of shiny new toys will never replace the stimulation, reward and tactile feedback that comes from human to human interaction.

    Commenter
    GeoffWhere
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    December 15, 2013, 11:12AM
    • Missed the point much? Did you even read the article?

      Commenter
      John
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 11:28AM
    • Yes, Facebook being replaced by the tactile Twitter, Instagram and Kim.

      Commenter
      Justin
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 11:38AM
    • And how are these interactions facilitated? Guess you can't teach an old dog new tricks

      Commenter
      No_Idea
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 11:50AM
    • John, thanks for your insightful comment. As a matter of fact, yes I did read the article and saw fit to comment on the usefulness (or otherwise) of tools such as Facebook, compared with human to human interaction.

      I presume, based on your inability to grasp the context of my comment, that your mind has been shaped by the lack of personality that's encouraged by tools like Facebook.

      Might be better to stay with your Candy Crush Saga, or whatever else amuses you, until you learn more about personal interaction.

      Commenter
      GeoffWhere
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 12:04PM
    • Me and quite a few of my friends have left facebook a while ago, and I couldn't be happier, there's so much more on the internet, and people who use facebook alot become lazy and don't explore other parts of the web.

      Facebook is so last decade. Glad I left.

      Commenter
      Jaz
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 12:45PM
    • GeoffWhere you better get off your high horse before you fall and hurt yourself.

      You may have read the article but you obviously don't get the point. Its not about Facebook vs human interaction but how the "older" generation is embracing Facebook while teens are abandoning it. And if you read the article GeoffWhere than how do you suggest Holly Gleave keep in contact with her friends in England? Do you expect her to fly to the UK from Oz and knock on their doors just to say high?

      The ultimate irony is how you are talking about human interaction while you blissfully type your comments on a computer and than post them online. Here's a towel so you can wipe the egg off your face GeoffWhere.

      Commenter
      Dr.Strangelove
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 12:57PM
    • GeoffWhere - +1 - unfortunately it might be too late for mankind. I wait for the apocalypse (any universal or widespread destruction or disaster: eg: the apocalypse of nuclear war).

      And what Apocalypse is that you ask? The one in which humanity forgot to make sure there was enough food and shelter (but plenty of money) as they were all to busy online talking to their 1000+friends (who don't really care about them) or admiring the last selfie they took after uploading it (which few if any will ever look at).

      Facebook et.al. I have to admit I have never understood their appeal maybe I just don't have the need to share my personal crap with others (there is a humorousness irony in the is sentence).

      Commenter
      Derek K
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 4:00PM
    • Perhaps the teenagers know what the "awakend public", as opposed to the Reality TV obsessed, brain dead Sheeple do not yet know (and never will)........that Facebook is "The biggest spying device ever foistered upon Humanity" (Julian Assange, June 2012).

      Commenter
      The Seer
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 4:07PM
    • I agree with John. GeoffWhere completely misses the point of the article.

      Commenter
      wallaby
      Date and time
      December 15, 2013, 6:21PM

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