Facebook is losing its appeal to teenagers as more and more parents start using it to keep tabs on them, researchers have discovered.
They say youngsters now consider the social networking site ‘dead and buried’ and are too embarrassed to post intimate details in case their mothers or fathers find out.
The research, which looked into the online habits of teenagers in eight European countries including the UK, found many young Facebook users were switching to alternatives such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.
Losing its edge? Facebook was once the coolest site on the web - until it was joined by the
Professor Daniel Miller of University College London, who worked on the Global Social Media Impact Study, said British youngsters were ‘embarrassed even to be associated with it’.
He added: ‘Young people are turning away in their droves and adopting other social networks instead, while the worst people of all, their parents, continue to use the service.’
Professor Miller said teenagers now regarded Facebook as ‘so uncool’, adding: ‘You can’t be young and free if you know your parents can access your every indiscretion. Young people care about style and status in relation to their peers, and Facebook is simply not cool any more.
‘Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives. Parents have worked out how to use the site and they see it as a way for the family to remain connected.
‘What appears to be the most seminal moment in a young person’s decision to leave Facebook was surely that dreaded day that your mum sends you a friend request.’
However, the study found many teenagers do continue to use Facebook to stay connected with older family members or siblings who have left home.
The research, funded by the European Union, looked at the behaviour of 16 to 18-year-olds over a 15-month period.
It also discovered that up to 40 per cent of Facebook users had never changed their privacy settings and 80 per cent ‘did not care’ if their personal data was available to organisations or individuals.
Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckerberg and his friends from their university dormitory room in 2004.
He floated it on the US stock market eight years later for more than £60 billion.
Of the new generation of sites popular with teenagers, Snapchat is a picture sharing service and WhatsApp allows smartphone users to interact using text, video, images and audio.
Another popular alternative is Instagram, which allows users to upload and share photographs – and is owned by Facebook.