Facebook to see first-ever drop in US teen users as they increasingly opt for Instagram, Snapchat: Study

Teenage girls use their smartphones in Santa Monica, California.
Teenage girls use their smartphones in Santa Monica, California.PHOTO: NYT

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Facebook is lucky it owns Instagram.

This year, the world's largest social network will see a decline among teen users in the US, according to a forecast by eMarketer. It is the first time the research company has predicted a fall in Facebook usage for any age group.

Facebook's loss of monthly users between the ages of 12 and 17 will accelerate to 3.4 per cent this year compared with a 1.2 per cent drop in 2016, eMarketer said. Meanwhile, growth in users under the age of 12 and between 18 and 24 will slow 3.1 per cent and 14.5 per cent respectively for the year.

Teens are migrating instead to Snap Inc's Snapchat and Instagram, the photo-sharing app that Facebook owns, the research company said on Monday (Aug 21) in a statement.

The predicted decline, or slower growth, among this key demographic is a problem for Facebook as it tries to remain an attractive destination for advertisers.

Facebook has continued to grow around the world, with more than two billion users this year, but younger people are finding it less compelling, said Mr Oscar Orozco, forecasting analyst at eMarketer. The company needs to attract younger users so they build a Facebook habit that will carry into their adult years, when they become prime customers for Facebook advertising.

"Teens and tweens remaining on Facebook seem to be less engaged - logging in less frequently and spending less time on the platform," Mr Orozco said. "At the same time, we now have Facebook-nevers, many children aging into the tween demographic that appear to be overlooking Facebook altogether, yet still engaging with Facebook-owned Instagram."

With additional information from Fortune