American teens ditch Facebook for Snapchat in growing numbers

Many teenagers in the United States just don't see the allure of Facebook. 

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While marketers and researchers have noted for a couple of years that teenagers and those in their early twenties are adopting Facebook at decreasing rates, a new study from market research company eMarketer suggests the decline in is even greater than previously predicted. At the same time, Snapchat's young user base continues to grow rapidly.

Last year, eMarketer predicted that Facebook would see a decline of 3.4 percent in users from the 12- to 17-year-old demographic. In reality, the decline was nearly three times that amount, at 9.9 percent (or about 1.4 million users). In 2018, analysts predict "less than half of U.S. internet users ages 12 to 17 will use Facebook via any device at least once per month.”

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The research firm expects Facebook to lose about 2.1 million users in the U.S. under the age of 25 this year. In 2018, the number of users aged 18 to 24 is expected to drop by 5.8 percent overall. 

The new estimates are based on Facebook's own disclosures, historical trends, socioeconomic and demographic factors, as well as analysis of survey and traffic data from other research firms and regulatory agencies, eMarketer told Quartz

Despite its purchasing Instagram in 2012, an app still growing in popularity among young users, estimates show Snapchat will likely outpace Instagram in growth among users aged between 12 and 24.

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According to eMarketer, Snapchat is expected to add 1.9 million users in the young age demographic this year, compared to only 1.6 million for Instagram. 

Overall, however, Instagram is still more popular than Snapchat. By the end of 2018, the total number of Instagram users is expected to be about 104.7 million, an increase of 13.1 percent from 2017. Snapchat is expected to increase 9.3 percent overall to reach 85 million in 2018.

For the time being, Facebook and Instagram will maintain their overall dominance, according to Recode. But Facebook is taking note as young users increasingly choosing alternative platforms.

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"Teens want that instant gratification. That's why Snapchat and Instagram work well for them. Their minds move quickly," Julie Smith, a social scientist in denver who works with teens, told USA Today "Facebook feels like an investment of their time, and they don't want to invest their time in it."

As it gains younger users, Snapchat has also announced it is redesigning its app to keep older demographics in mind.

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"Snapchat could eventually experience more growth in older age groups, since it's redesigning its platform to be easier to use," Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst for eMarketer said.

"The question will be whether younger users will still find Snapchat cool if more of their parents and grandparents are on it. That's the predicament Facebook is in,” she added.

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