Is Facebook Becoming the Social Network for the UK's Older Generation?

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As Facebook grows, it will have trouble hanging on to the UK's key 12-to-24 age bracket, predicts a leading digital insights firm.

eMarketer forecasts that "almost no" new UK users aged 12 to 24 will join Facebook between now and 2017, leaving the social network with a core audience of older users.

What's more, eMarketer says, the number of users aged 18 to 24 will decrease on an annual basis between 2016 and 2018.

Despite this, Facebook is growing in the UK, with eMarketer predicting that Facebook will boast 31.5 million UK users this year.

So are younger users switching off social media en-masse? Not likely.

According to eMarketer's data - sourced from an Ofcom poll - younger users are likely being enticed away from Facebook by new social networks like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Instagram usage amongst very young users has seen particularly rapid growth. In Ofcom's poll of UK social media users aged 12 to 15, 36% of respondents said they used Instagram in 2014, compared to just 16% in 2013.

Snapchat usage in this age bracket stood at 26% in 2014, whilst Whatsapp usage was noted by 20% of respondents.

Table showing social network penetration amongst UK users aged 12 to 15.

Source: eMarketer.

It may not only be the temptation of the new that's causing young users to switch. According to a GlobalWebIndex report, cited by eMarketer, teens in the US and Britain were more likely to express 'anti-Facebook sentiments' than other age groups.

Facebook isn't the only social network having trouble with teens. Ofcom's data shows that Twitter, the other long-standing veteran of social media, saw its usage amongst the 12-to-15 age bracket fall from 37% to 28% between 2013 and 2014.

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