Facebook may be the dominant social network, but more people are voluntarily taking breaks from the social network, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.
Pew, which surveyed 1,006 people for the report, found that 61% of current Facebook users have voluntarily taken a break from Facebook for a period of several weeks or more. One in five say they once used the social network, but no longer do.
The top reason for taking a break from Facebook: 21% reported it was a result of being too busy with other demands or not having time to spend on the site. Some 10% reported they were no longer interested in the social network and that it was a waste of time, while 9% attributed their hiatus to an influx of negativity and drama.
The respondents who used Facebook in the past but no longer do so (20%) attributed their departure to similar reasons. In their own words, according to the report, their reasons for leaving included the following:
"It's a gossipy thing"
"My account was compromised"
"I got tired of minding everybody else's business"
"Not enough privacy"
While not all Facebook users choose to take a hiatus from the social network, Pew reports that 27% are actively trying to reduce the amount of time they spend logged on. Some 69% estimate they'll spend about the same amount of time on Facebook, while just 3% say they intend to increase their use of the site.
Young adults ages 18-29 report they expect to spend less time on the social network, which is important, Pew says, because "young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement."
Despite the shift in Facebook usage, Pew reports that the overall health of social networks is strong: In September 2009, 47% of online adults used social networks. Today, that number has jumped to 69%.
People are also accessing social networks more frequently than in the past: In August 2011, just 33% of users said they accessed social networking sites several times a day. In a separate survey conducted in November, 41% report doing so, according to Pew.