48 percent of UK citizens aged between 11-years-old and 18-years-old have not heard of Facebook Places, Foursquare, or the less popular Gowalla and SCVNGR. Furthermore, 67 percent of young people that have heard of location services don't use them, and 58 percent of teens who have heard of them don't see the point. Girls are less interested than boys: 76 percent of females do not use any location application compared to 60 percent of males.
Most importantly, 45 percent don't feel safe using location services. 28 percent believe their phones can't run the software and 16 percent say they don't use them as their friends don't either, according to youth communications agency Dubit. The British company carried out the research by surveying 1,000 teenagers with an equal balance between gender and age.
On the other side of the spectrum, the most popular reasons for the adoption of location services was that users found them fun (48 percent) and they wanted their friends to know where they are (45 percent). Teenagers found these much more important than the other benefits of the services, such as special offers (14 percent), getting tips (12 percent), or points and mayorships (12 percent).
Facebook Places was recognized more than any other service with 44 percent being aware of it compared to 27 percent having heard of Foursquare. Awareness of all services increased with age, with Foursquare seeing the biggest difference.
Despite Foursquare's relatively high awareness, only 5 percent of the teens who have heard of it actually use it. The corresponding number for Facebook Places is 30 percent.
This is a huge opportunity for Facebook. While it's impossible for the social network to convince those who are not interested in location services at all, the company can certainly take over the location market thanks to its huge user base. I believe that a big increase in usage for location services will likely come with the company's Facebook Deals push. Peter Robinson, head of research at Dubit, cautiously agrees.
"When Places launched much of the criticism was focused at its lack of gamification – it just didn’t look fun," Robinson said in a statement. "As we can now see, this doesn't matter to teens who would rather boast about where they are and who they are with; all benefits that come from being on the largest social network. Ultimately teens just don't see the point of these offerings. Perhaps when Facebook’s Deals product gains momentum this will change things and young people may be driven by discounts but at the moment the brands who are using these platforms, and the platform owners need to be telling teens why they should be using them and how they can do so safely."