The Changing Face of Facebook (And Why It’s a Good Thing)

My mom killed Facebook.

Well, at least that’s what financial pundits would have you believe, given that recent surveys show an increase in Boomers using Facebook while the younger set signs off. I actually think my mom — and others like her — saved Facebook.

But before I tell you why Mark Zuckerberg should be sending Baby Boomers thank you notes, it’s helpful to understand why people like my mom have joined the Facebook nation… and the affect they’re having on everyone else.

Our personal example illustrates this quite well…

I’m the youngest in my family, and therefore my kids are the youngest in their generation. Sometimes this was a problem at reunions or holidays, because my kids wanted to hang out with the big kids, who often had other plans.

But there was (and is) a positive side to this…

While my nieces and nephews plowed the road when it came to good things, like college and sports, they also led the way in bad things, like parties and car accidents. My kids can rest easy in the knowledge that when it comes to making mistakes, they’re not pioneers… even when it happens online.

I knew Facebook was doomed when my mom read, and then got angry about, a post my niece had made. My mother was in her 60s at the time, and was unimpressed with the language my teenage niece had used.

Being a conscientious grandparent, my mother reached out to my brother and sister-in-law to report her. They immediately contacted my niece, who quickly removed the post. My mother was pleased with herself for getting such an immediate response.

When she told me this story a day or two later, all I could think was that across the country, parents and grandparents are spying on these kids… Things are going to change.

And they have.

There are now almost three times as many people 55 and over (15.6% of users) on Facebook as there are kids under 18 (5.4%). The powerful group of 18 to 25 year-olds, who once dominated the social network, is now less than one-fourth of the total user population.

While the high school and college-aged kids are leaving Facebook by the millions, the older groups keep signing up. What does it mean for Facebook in the years to come? Potentially, a lot more money!

While Facebook began as a way to stay connected with friends, it has become a way to stay connected with friends and family. This draws older users online, who then join their own networks, reconnecting with classmates and friends from long ago.

This evolution might seem like a step backward for Facebook, since it means the hip, young people are no longer driving the train, but it could be the best thing that ever happened to the company.

Not only are there more Baby Boomers (now aging parents and grandparents) than any other generation, but they also have a lot more cash than younger people. With this new demographic online, Facebook can draw advertisers that would have never spent a nickel to reach poor 19-year-olds.

As for the teen set and the college kids… well, they’ve moved on.

My own kids favor Instagram and Pinterest for their online sharing, if they do any digital sharing at all. This doesn’t mean they don’t use Facebook, only that their use of it has dropped dramatically.

At this point, the digital world has become an albatross around the necks of young people, since colleges, employers, and lenders all scan social media looking for reasons to bounce applicants.

And if you’ve not turned on your privacy settings as well as created your inner circle of friends, there’s a good chance that, in addition to colleges, employers and other business relationships seeing what you post, your grandmother will see it too… and tell your parents.

Rodney

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Categories: Life Cycle

About Author

Rodney Johnson works closely with Harry Dent to study how people spend their money as they go through predictable stages of life, how that spending drives our economy and how you can use this information to invest successfully in any market. Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. He’s a regular guest on several radio programs such as America’s Wealth Management, Savvy Investor Radio, and has been featured on CNBC, Fox News and Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard, where he discusses economic trends ranging from the price of oil to the direction of the U.S. economy. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University.