There have been a number of articles, (here, here, and here) and news stories about how young people are leaving Facebook in droves. I get that part of it has to do that it is because parents are there and they want autonomy. And while I will not disagree with this theory, I think there is something else going on. What if students departure from Facebook was not just about autonomy, but about developmental stagnation.
Facebook made its name by connecting college students through a social network. College students were able to connect with friends, classmates, and people with like minded passions. College students by where age are more mature and socially developed than students in high school and middle school. Especially in the beginning back when college students still actually talked face to face with one another.
To survive and thrive on the Facebook platform takes some social chops. You have to know what to post, how to present yourself, what to reveal about yourself and at every turn there is an opportunity for feedback. You can like something and comment on something and all these interactions are visible to your entire network. Managing this actually takes skill, humor, wisdom, and discernment. Oh, and most importantly, this takes actually knowing how to maintain friendships. Hence, “friends.”
I think students are departing Facebook in droves because students don’t know how to have “friends.”