When did Facebook stop being cool? Was it when the social network let in high schoolers? Or when moms and grandmas started saturating it? Regardless, the company has been worried about teenagers leaving the world's largest social network for hipper alternatives, such as Snapchat and Tumblr. On Wednesday, a marketing firm quantified this mass exodus, finding the number of teenagers have dropped by 3 million over three years.
An iStrategyLabs report found teenage users ages 13 to 17 have declined 25% within the last three years to 9.8 million in January 2014. Meanwhile, the 55-and-older subset have taken to the social network, with more than 28 million users in that demographic, an 80% growth over the same period.
DJ Saul, who authored the report, said he pulled the publicly available data from Facebook's social advertising platform, comparing numbers across the same categories from a similar report the firm did in 2011.
"What's really happening is that the teens from our 2011 report have aged out of that demographic, and today’s teens are adopting it in far fewer numbers," Saul told Fast Company. In contrast, networks like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat "are parents-free—sort of," he notes.
Use among high school students is also down 59% to 3 million users from 7.3 million in 2011. Facebook's bread and butter, college students, aren't sticking to the network either, with user numbers declining 59% to 4.8 million users from 11.7 million. However, with early adopters graduating, the alumni base has grown 64.6%, from 36.4 million to 60 million.