Yet another study—this one based on ethnographic, not statistical, research—claims that teens are leaving Facebook in droves. But where Facebook is going, it might not need them.

Thanks, Mom And Dad

As part of a recent European Union-funded study, social-science researchers spent time with 16-to-18 year olds in the UK and found that Facebook is “dead and buried” for many teens. The culprit? Parents.

The social network that was once popular with young people looking for an online community away from parents’ prying eyes has turned into a way for family to stay in touch with the hyper-connected younger demographic. Teens apparently don’t like that.

The researchers discovered that teens are ditching Facebook in favor of other services like Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat. “Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with [Facebook],” writes Daniel Miller, the lead anthropologist for the study.

Well, Duh

It comes as no surprise that young people are abandoning Facebook. The company admitted in its October earnings call that the company was losing favor with teens, specifically daily active users. 

At the time, Facebook claimed the findings were of “questionable significance,” and that may be true—though not for the reasons you might think. Truth is, Facebook might not need teens as much as many people seem to think.

Facebook is attempting to become a platform for finding and sharing news and current events, not just for interacting with friends. Recent updates to the social network have aimed to create a news feed that isn’t filled with memes and selfies—and that's thus more meaningful. One algorithm tweak pushed news front-and-center, while Facebook partnerships with publishers aim to help the media better understand conversations and trends.

Mark Zuckerberg has admitted he wants Facebook to be “the best personalized newspaper in the world.” I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I couldn’t be bothered to read the news.

Facebook might be losing popularity with teenagers, but that’s not the market the company is trying to court. Parents, in fact, are the target. 

So while teens spend their days snapping each other, Facebook will continue to cater to a market better suited for both its advertisers and publishing partners—adults concerned about current events and the occasional Grumpy Cat. 

Image courtesy Vancouver Public Library on Flickr