Teens abandon Facebook as adults log on

GEORGIE STONE
Last updated 18:40 15/12/2013
Holly and Sue Gleave
JACKY GHOSSEIN/Fairfax Aus

TAKEOVER: Holly Gleave can't watch as her mother Sue indulges her social media habit.

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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, an Australian study show only 23 per cent of teenagers consider Facebook the most important social networking source.

And as teens log-off from Facebook, 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.

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,'' 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,'' 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?''

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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!

-Daily Life

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