For teens, maintaining a Facebook profile is an increasingly complicated game wrought with unwanted drama, boring content and peeking parents. That’s why they are spending more time on other social sites like Twitter and Instagram where they feel they can better express themselves, according to a survey of 12- to 17-year-olds by the Pew Research Center.
“The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm,” the study says. “Nevertheless, the site is still where a large amount of socializing takes place, and teens feel they need to stay on Facebook in order to not miss out.”
The study found differences in how girls and boys use social media. In general, girls are more active on Facebook, with more friends on average (507 to boys’ 346). One third of girls are active on Twitter, compared to 1 in 5 boys.
Teens demonstrate relatively little concern about privacy. Only 1 in 10 are “very concerned” about businesses accessing their personal data; more than half share their email address (up from 30 percent in 2006), and 20 percent share their cell phone number (up from 2 percent). Despite the fact most teens feel it’s easy to manage their privacy settings in Facebook, 40 percent still use the default—public profiles that anyone to see.
Girls nonetheless manage their connections—and reputations—much more heavily. Girls are 20 percent more likely both to restrict access to their profiles and delete friends. Six in ten girls would untag themselves from Facebook pictures and posts, as compared to a third of boys. And boys, especially older teens, are much more likely to post their cell phone numbers.
Girls’ caution may stem from the fact that one quarter reported contact online from someone they don’t know that makes them uncomfortable—more than twice the rate of boys.