Rumours of a teen exodus from Facebook have been circulating for some time. More than a billion people log on every day, but just 8% of users are teens, and just 15% of those cite it as their favourite social app. Instead, a growing number of teens are flocking to video-centric platforms, like Snapchat and Youtube. But in a bid to capture their hearts once again, Facebook has launched Lifestage – a video-led, teen-only app built by an in-house Gen Zer.
At 20, Michael Sayman is one of Facebook’s youngest employees, and Lifestage is his 14th app; a standalone iOS app exclusively for socially-savvy under-21s. Users upload pictures and videos based around their likes, dislikes, feelings and friends, which are then translated into video profiles – ideal for video-loving Snapchat-savouring Gen Zers.
The ubiquity of Facebook has created a generation gap
Verkeorg (2016) ©
"Back in 2004, Facebook was all about 'who I am',” says Sayman. “I could post my relationship status. I could share what my favourite music was. And it was all about expressing myself. Today, we see the opportunity to explore that concept of 'who I am' once again, but for Gen Z in 2016." And as a generation who’ve learnt to swipe before they can walk, their concept of ‘me’ is built upon a digital foundation; making these video profiles the perfect projection of the self. Not only do Gen Zers see being a Youtuber as a viable career option, but over half (51%) would rather communicate digitally than in person.
Lifestage taps into the obvious issue that’s come with the ubiquity of Facebook; the generation gap. While 86% of parents think teens speak an entirely different language on social media, 25% of teens have given a lecture to their parents on what – and what not – to do on social media. “Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool,” says 19-year-old Andrew Watts. “But now it’s seen as an awkward family dinner party we can't really leave.” No wonder, then, that a fifth of teens have blocked a parent on social media. Will Lifestage be the cool, exclusive house party Facebook has intended? Or just another family dinner – one that no one even turns up to?
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Hannah Elderfield is a Canvas8 behavioural analyst and a psychology graduate from the University of Kent. Outside of work she can be found shopping, walking her dog or attempting to curb her addiction to Nutella, not all at once of course.
24 Aug 16