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BizReport : Social Marketing : February 07, 2013

61% of Facebook users have taken a break from the network, have you?

Almost two-thirds of American adults have taken a break from using Facebook at some point or another, according to new research from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, and more than a third of younger users intend to use it less in the coming year.

by Helen Leggatt

I recently attempted to have some Facebook 'time-out', but resorted to making one or two status updates during the day to ensure no-one called the police to report me missing.

However, according to Pew's first investigation into this behavior, I'm not the only one who feels the need to withdraw from the network. Sixty-one percent of current Facebook users have, at one time or another, stepped back from the social network for a period of several weeks or more.

Of that 61%, the most common reason for taking a break is the same as mine - the need to focus on other demands instead of 'wasting' time on the social network (21%) - although an element of the other reasons also applied to me. They include taking a break due to a general lack of interest in the site (10%), uninteresting content (10%), excessive gossip amongst friends or "drama" (9%) or the feeling they are spending too much time on the site (8%).

Pew also asked respondents about their future Facebook usage intentions. Very few intend to spend more time on the social network - just 1% of 18-29 year olds, 4% of 30-49 year olds and 4% of those age 50+.

However, larger numbers intend to use Facebook less in the coming year - 17% of those age 50+ and 26% of 30-49 year olds. While this doesn't necessarily signal the death of Facebook, the number of younger users that intend to use Facebook less is significant, and could signal a change in expectations and use of social networking and media. More than a third (38%) intend to use Facebook less in the coming year and, as Pew suggests, "young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement".

Tags: Facebook, research, social network, user behavior, user engagement

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