More young people are visiting social networks versus year ago, although they are spending less time browsing across multiple sites, according to new research. The study, from comScore, suggests that while the average 15-24 year old is spending less time overall on social networking sites, it appears to be due to greater consolidation around a primary site, such as Facebook. The number of 15-24 year olds visiting social networking sites reached 6.8 million in June, up 14 percent versus the previous year.
Though the overall audience of social networkers in this age segment is up substantially during the past year, the time they spent on social networking sites is down 9 percent.
The overall decline in time spent on the sites appears to be attributable to younger users spending less time on secondary social networking sites.
The report findings are at odds with recent research from Ofcom, which suggested there had been a five percent fall-off in 15-24 year-olds using social networks from March last year.
“Recent reports have suggested that 15-24 year olds in the U.K. are moving away from social networking sites because they’re no longer cool as older users have encroached on their virtual space. comScore research indicates that is simply not the case,” said Mike Read, SVP and Managing Director, comScore Europe. “In fact, more 15-24 year olds are using social networking sites than a year ago, so there isn’t any particular aversion to the activity. What does appear to be happening is that younger users are beginning to consolidate around Facebook and are spending less time on competing sites.”
Younger Social Networkers Move Toward “Older” Facebook
Despite the reports that younger users are moving away from social networking sites to avoid their older counterparts, a demographic analysis of the top social networking sites reveals just the opposite.
Younger users are increasingly moving towards Facebook as their primary social networking destination; however, Facebook has a substantially older user profile than Bebo and MySpace. Specifically, 77 percent of Facebook visitors are age 25 or older, compared to 65 percent of Bebo visitors and 69 percent of MySpace visitors.
“These data suggest that not only are younger social networkers not avoiding their older counterparts, but they are actually gravitating towards a site that skews more heavily towards users age 25 and older,” added Read. “It’s likely that the age of one’s peers on a social networking site is not a critical factor in how 15-24 year olds will spend their time online. But as people’s digital media lives become increasingly fragmented, users are craving the simplicity of fewer platforms – and the dominant social networking platform right now appears to be Facebook.”