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Kids May Be Leaving Facebook, but They Love YouTube

At the world's biggest video site, teens and tweens rule.

Smosh via YouTube
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Lots of people think kids are done with Facebook. No way, says Facebook: Kids love Facebook!

But, let’s say Facebook was concerned — maybe just a little bit — that the kids were no longer alright. Where should it go to find them?

If you say Snapchat, or Instagram, or something along those lines, you might be sort of right. But you’re mostly wrong. The best place to find kids on the Web is YouTube.

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. teens say they use Google’s video site “frequently,” according to a survey from The Intelligence Group (via eMarketer). Only 60 percent say the same about Facebook. Those numbers even out as the kids get out of high school, and eventually flip around for 20- and 30-somethings:

Those numbers won’t be a surprise to anyone who spends time in the YouTube ecosystem, where the biggest stars are teens and 20-somethings catering to tweens and teens. Like PewDiePie and Smosh, who are huge on YouTube and pretty much incomprehensible to old farts like me.

But you still get the feeling that YouTube isn’t entirely comfortable acknowledging that kids rule. If you ask a YouTuber they’ll insist — correctly — that lots of people watch lots of stuff on the site, and that it contains multitudes, etc. My hunch is that YouTube worries that fully embracing kids means it will scare off other users, or advertisers that want to reach those users.

In any case, one upside is that no one’s going to spend any time on Google’s earnings call asking the company about its teen problem.

Here’s what the Smosh guys are up to, by the way. This one went up last week, and has a couple million views — like just about everything they put up.

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