Welp. I guess there goes Mark Zuckerberg's evil plan to Logan's Run all of us Facebook users over the age of 35 and melt our internal organs down to use as fuel for his next phase of advertising algorithms. Turns out, the Olds are ever so quietly taking over America's most clickable social media platform.
According to a Pew Center for Internet and American Life survey, more and more persons over the age of 65 are signing up for Facebook accounts to keep track of grandchildren, look at photos of loved ones and lots more:
The survey found that 45 percent of U.S. seniors who use the Internet are on Facebook, up from 35 percent the previous year. The site saw usage grow for all adults over 30, and it is used by 71 percent of Americans, an increase from 67 percent last year.
Use among teens, however, has stagnated at 84 percent. The percentage of those between 18 and 29 who use the site fell two percentage points compared with last year, according to the survey. That's in keeping with growing concern that Facebook is seeing lower engagement with the younger users who drove its early popularity, something that the company has acknowledged.
"It's hard to get more than 85 percent of anyone doing anything," said Pew senior researcher Aaron Smith."A lot of the easy converts in the younger group, or even in the older and middle-aged group, are already on the site. The senior group is the only area that has any substantial area for growth."
All of this supports an earlier study which found that British teens are flocking from Facebook, thanks to the fact that their Nanas and Boompas were signing up for the site. Speaking as a near-40-year-old woman who was recently
asked begged to change her Facebook banner pic of a very colorfully worded sign at a pro-choice rally so "Gran-gran wouldn't see it and get upset," let me tell you how much I understand why that's happening. But don't take it from me; check out what the fancy dudes with cool job titles have to say:
An ethnographic study of 16- to 18-year-olds north of London found that teens are migrating to private-messaging services such as WhatsApp and Snapchat to communicate with their friends. In many cases, the study said, teens stay on Facebook at the behest of their parents, who have made it a tool for keeping track of their children.
"You just can't be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion," wrote Daniel Miller, a professor of Material Culture at UCL who ran the study.
Obviously, that's not news to any of us who live on Planet Earth without having our heads stuck up our asses. The point is people are getting smart about how they use Facebook. The survey found more than 40 percent of Americans utilize different social media applications for different purposes. That's just common sense for seasoned Internetters—some sites are better for sharing photos, talking to family members, venting about bullshit at work, etc.
Facebook, which has more than 1 billion users, seems to be the "default" social network, Smith said, while Pinterest skews more heavily toward women, LinkedIn to more educated or wealthier users, and Twitter to young adults and African Americans. Users go to specific sites based on what they're trying to do, Smith said, and engagement for many of the smaller sites are on par with Facebook. Fifty-seven percent of Instagram users, for example, return daily to the site to check for updates, compared with 63 percent of Facebook users. Nearly half of Twitter's users, 46 percent, also make the site a daily habit.
Basically, we're getting a lot more savvy about what we choose to use each social media platform to do. Like me! I use my Facebook to relentlessly stalk food products I am obsessed with, my Twitter to point out the numerous reasons why Vodka should be elected President (THERE WOULD LITERALLY BE ZERO PEOPLE WHO HATE THE PRESIDENT YOU GUYS) and my LinkedIn to pretend I am a 24-year-old television executive who just got a three picture deal with HBO. That's just smart utilization of technology.
Yeah, all of this is totally fantastic. My 74-year-old mother just got herself a Facebook account. She spent three days friend-requesting every single human being in the continental United States named "Rebecca Rose." Then she called me at 4 a.m., panic stricken because "there are a lot of people using your name on this website from the Facingbooks people." Hey, but don't count her out of the game just yet. Her profile pic is a photo of Angie Dickinson. In a bikini. She knows what's what.
Image via Shutterstock