Financial and mobile issues might prove the least of Mark Zuckerberg’s problems claims a report [ ] out this week from top ten award winning independent market research agency Conquest [ ] into the social media habits of 14-24 year olds. It reveals that Facebook’s core audience- teenagers-are starting to fall out of love with the website and that activity may have peaked amid a mounting groundswell of dissatisfaction and concerns over privacy and bullying.

While Facebook’s pre-eminence is assured in the short term, “Fuicide” (the attempted or successful deletion of the account) is on the rise as are complaints about the damaging impact of regular and prolonged Facebook use. Grievances triggered by Facebook’s culture include obsession with appearance and acceptance of sexually provocative behaviour; increased negative self esteem, vulnerability to bullying, depression caused by jealousy and comparing one’s life to peers and inability to project one’s true self. Conquest used its avatar driven methodology Metaphorix(TM) to capture respondent’s authentic feelings about social media.

The Evidence :-

– Over 30% of the group have had sufficiently bad experience online to recently attempt or succeed in deleting their accounts, with 13% of regular users planning to lower their presence over the coming 12 months.

– Concerns about privacy, bullying and Facebook ‘making me feel down about life’ are the most cited reasons:-

– Specifically:-vulnerability to bullying was stated by 44% as reason for feeling unhappy about using the site, as well as increased negative self esteem (28%); depression sparked by unfavourable comparisons with other people’s lives (25%); and plain jealousy of others (24%).

– Nearly half of all young women (45%) felt that Facebook intensifies an obsession with appearance. Moreover, 33% of males concurred, with over a quarter stating that it boosts the acceptance of sexually provocative presentation.

– A growing frustration was articulated with the Facebook culture’s inability to enable authentic expression of character. This is offset by young men’s relish at the opportunity afforded to exaggerate the facts about themselves, with 44% admitting to this.

– Generally speaking it is unsurprisingly young women who suffer more from the adverse effects of Facebook than their male counterparts with more female deleters and complainants of harmful consequences.

New and different sites (like Pinterest and fashism ) have experienced phenomenal growth in 2012 while Myspace has remained a stalwart for those musically minded, challenging Facebook’s monolithic status. Commented David Penn MD of Conquest and inventor of the Metaphorix(TM) methodology:- “Could the future of social media be more niche networks catering for particular interests- those which users select in order to feel more comfortable, more inspired and ultimately more themselves?”

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