The findings of the SWITCH Junior Web Barometer confirm that Facebook is now part of day-to-day life for the younger generation. However, the social media giant is facing ever-growing competition from platforms that offer a more instant experience, such as Instagram.
The SWITCH Foundation has commissioned its sixth online survey of children and young people between the ages of 8 and 20 on the subject of Internet and social media use. Some 371 school students from the German and French-speaking parts of Switzerland took part.
Children and young people use the Internet primarily for entertainment. Social networks satisfy many of their needs. Although it is difficult to compare platforms with each other, given the very different functions they perform, certain trends can be observed. Facebook is still used intensively, and younger children especially rate it positively on the whole (88%). Older children, meanwhile, have fallen out of love with it to some extent. More than half of them actually said that Facebook has started to get on their nerves. “Facebook has definitely lost some of its novelty factor among young people, who no longer regard it as ‘cool’. It’s now part of their day-to-day lives, so it’s not as new and exciting as it was in the early days,” says media psychologist Daniel Süss of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
YouTube and WhatsApp remain very popular across all age groups. The big winner appears to be Instagram, which is used to communicate through sharing pictures. “(...) platforms that can be used more quickly, even just for a moment now and again, get more use (...),” says Süss.
Compared with previous years, there has been an increase in the frequency of Internet use across all age groups. In the 8 to 12 age group, 37% of children are online every day. This figure rises to 82% for the 13 to 16 age group, while 98% of over-17s use the Internet daily.
These findings show that the younger generation are increasingly taking the Internet for granted. “Youngsters increasingly go online briefly to communicate or be entertained, be it on public transport or during breaks at school,” explains Daniel Süss.
While younger children are not spending more time online, older ones are – and more often. It is particularly interesting to note that 33% of over-17s spend more than four hours a day online. This is much higher than in 2013 (9%) and 2012 (8%).
Interview with media psychologist Prof. Daniel Süss of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) on the SWITCH Junior Web Barometer.