'Facebook Fatigue' hits US users –study
In what could be termed a case of "Facebook fatigue," some Americans have taken a break from using the social network for several weeks or more, a new study has shown.
The study by Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project showed "considerable fluidity" in the Facebook user population in the US.
"(The study showed) 61 percent of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more," it said.
Also, 20 percent of the online adults who do not currently use Facebook say they once used the site but no longer do so.
However, the study also showed 8 percent of online adults who do not currently use Facebook are "interested in becoming Facebook users in the future."
Of the 61 percent who took a break from Facebook, the largest group —21 percent— said they were too busy or did not have time for it.
Some 10 percent said they weren't interested or didn't like the site, while another 10 percent said they felt it was a "waste of time" or the content was not relevant.
Another nine percent cited excessive gossip or "drama" from friends, while eight percent felt they were spending too much time on Facebook.
Another eight percent said they were infrequent or intermittent users and still another eight percent said they went on vacation or a trip or deployment.
Seven percent said they were tired or bored with it, while six percent said "just because."
Rounding up the other reasons were:
- concerns about privacy, security, ads, spam, 4 percent
- did not have Internet or computer access, 2 percent
- prefer other ways to communicate, 2 percent
- health or age issues, 2 percent
- religious reasons, 1 percent
- did not like posting all the time or share content, 1 percent
On the other hand, the study found 92 percent of those using social networking sites maintain a profile on Facebook.
Social networking importance
The Pew Internet survey findings also showed the continued importance of social networking sites more generally to online life.
As recently as September 2009, 47 percent of online adults used social networking sites. Today 69 percent of online adults or more than half of the entire adult population in the US use an online social network of some kind.
On a typical day nearly half of all adult Internet users access a social networking site.
A separate survey in November 2012 also showed some 41 percent of social networking site users said they access these sites several times a day.
This was a significant increase from the 33 percent of users who said that they accessed social networking sites with that level of frequency in August 2011.
Importance of Facebook
In the study, majority of Facebook users say the site is as important now as it was a year ago. About half say they use the site as much now as they did a year ago.
But Pew also noted notable numbers point to a decreasing value and a decline in usage over the past year.
The study said 59 percent of Facebook users say the social networking site is about as important to them as it was a year ago.
Also, 53 percent of current users say the amount of time they are spending on Facebook has stayed about the same over the past year.
Some 28 percent of Facebook users say the site has become less important to them than it was a year ago while 34 pecent of current users say the amount of time they are spending on Facebook has decreased over the past year.
On the other hand, 12 percent of Facebook users say the social networking site has become more important to them than it was a year ago.
Also, 13 percent of current users say the amount of time they are spending on Facebook has increased over the past year.
The study showed women are more likely than men to report increased importance and greater time spent on the site.
Some 16 percent of female users and 7 percent of men say Facebook has become more important to them over the last year, and 16 percent of female users and 9 percent of men say they spend more time on the site now than they did a year ago.
On the other hand, some 42 percent of Facebook users ages 18-29 and 34 percent of those ages 30-49 say that the time they spend on Facebook on a typical day has decreased over the last year.
"These are both significantly higher than the 23 percent of users ages 50 and older who report decreased Facebook usage over the same time period," Pew said.
Cutting back on Facebook use
Most current users of Facebook said in the study that they expect their usage levels will stay about the same.
But around one in four say they plan to cut back on their Facebook usage in 2013:
- 3 percent of Facebook users say they plan to spend more time on the site in the coming year.
- 27 percent of Facebook users say they plan to spend less time on the site in the coming year.
- 69 percent of Facebook users say they plan to spend the same amount of time on the site this coming year.
"Young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement. Some 38 percent of Facebook users ages 18-29 expect to spend less time using the site in 2013, although a majority of users across age groups anticipate that their Facebook usage will remain largely stable in the year to come," it said. — TJD, GMA News