Social media has changed the way we think about presenting ourselves and our identities. While this has affected most age groups to some extent, including Millennials and the Baby Boomer generation, it has also changed the way that future ages will use online platforms. In fact, recent trends have suggested that the most popular social media networks won’t be used to the same extent by the next age group—Generation Z.
Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace were once ways that young people could find a way to connect with friends and broadcast their interests online. In the early 2000s, Facebook emerged as the forerunner in the social media race, attracting millions of users from around the world. Those who joined the network tended to share photos, information about themselves, and thoughts and feelings with friends. Millennials especially tended to add personal details on Facebook.
However, many experts have noted that this trend seems to be changing with the next generation. Unlike the Millennials and Baby Boomers before them, Generation Z has grown up with social media pages and technology. Having so much information about a certain individual seems to be a reason why many members of Generation Z have switched to other networks and have been avoiding Facebook.
“[I]t was another round of bad news for Facebook,” writes Mark Abadi for Business Insider. “In September, market research firm eMarketer estimated that the number of Facebook users between the ages of 12 and 17 would fall 3.4% to 14.5 million people by the end of the year.”
Before, young people would usually reach out on social media platforms anything and everything, including recommendations for a movie or help with assignments. Now, it seems that oversharing might be a big reason that younger people are looking to other platforms to fulfill their needs. This might mean having a much more limited network on Facebook or by deleting it altogether.
Instead of using social media as a broadcasting tool, Gen Z looks to be selecting apps that allow them to choose who receives their posts. Snapchat and Instagram have taken the place of the news-like nature of Facebook and Twitter by making it a much more private affair, with “story” features that delete posts within a certain amount of time. Snapchat users can also directly choose which connections see which posts, giving them much more agency than on other platforms.
Privacy tends to play a major role in the reason why many members of Gen Z no longer use Facebook. Young people might not want their parents or family members to see certain posts, and other apps allow them to pick what can be shared with acquaintances and what should be for friends’ eyes only. This is a far cry from Millennials, who tend to be eager to share their information with a wide variety of people.
“Because Gen Zers are individualistic and value their privacy, they prefer anonymous social media like Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper rather than Facebook,” comments An Hodgson for Business Insider.
Snapchat and Instagram are also much more visual than Facebook, which relies on text in order to convey communication. Both of these newer platforms allow you to send single photos with short captions—saying a lot without saying much at all. While Facebook has incorporated this feature, as well, it still lacks the same sense of privacy that other apps geared toward Generation Z have.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, it is unlikely that it will completely disappear within the next few years. However, the platform is starting to see a dip in user engagement. Even if members of Gen Z do have an account, they tend to log in and interact with friends less often than other age demographics.
Another surprising trend that has come to define Gen Z is a need for more social interaction. Millennials are known for chatting with friends and family at a much higher rate online, but it seems as though younger people are looking for ways to see friends through FaceTime and video rather than using messaging features. Many apps designed to meet this need, such as Monkey and HOLLA, connect users so they can meet in person or have an opportunity to chat in real time with an online connection.
Social media platforms like Facebook have served as a predecessor for new and innovative forms of connecting with others. Just as it seemed like a revelation at the time, it is likely a new app or website will take Facebook’s place as the favorite way to make new friends and keep connections with old ones. With privacy and video sharing becoming hot topics in the world of online platforms, it will be interesting to see which social media services members of Generation Z will choose and how that will affect society in the future.