Growing number of users seeking to cut back on Facebook time

According to a new Pew Internet Project study, almost 30 per cent of the Facebook's users plan to cut back on their use of the social network this year. More than 60 per cent admitted already taking a voluntary break of several weeks or more since joining the site.

But why take a Facebook holiday? More than 20 per cent said they are just too busy with real-life demands, while others pointed to a general lack of interest in the social network (10 per cent), an absence of compelling content (10 per cent), excessive gossip and drama among friends (9 per cent), or concerns that the site was simply taking up too much of their time (8 per cent).

"These data show that people are trying to make new calibrations in their life to accommodate new social tools," Lee Rainie, Pew Internet Project director and co-author of the report, said in a statement.

Like the worn-out toy tossed aside to make room for shinier playthings, Facebook seems to be losing its allure among users, 28 per cent of whom said the site has become less important to them than it was a year ago. Almost 35 per cent admit that the amount of time they spend on the social network has decreased since the year before.

About 42 per cent of those users aged 18-29 — often considered the prime social-networking target — said their time spent on the site in a typical day has decreased; 34 per cent of those 30-49 years old agreed.

"For some, the central calculation is how they spend their time," Rainie said. "For others, it's more of a social reckoning as they ask themselves, 'What are my friends doing and thinking and how much does that matter to me?' They are adding up the pluses and minuses on a kind of networking balance sheet and they are trying to figure out how much they get out of connectivity vs. how much they put into it."

The future of Facebook is yet unseen, and will likely remain fairly steady in the next year, according to Pew's study, which also pointed to one in four participants who plan to cut back on their usage in 2013. Only 3 per cent said they're looking to spend more time on the site, while 27 per cent expect to spend less time. Almost 70 per cent say their Facebook habits will stay the same.