Consistent with this Blog’s goal of discussing topics relevant to LDS parents and youth, as well as considering my professional field of Web analytics, I’d like to talk today about the growth of Facebook and how it relates to LDS families. is one of the world’s most popular Web sites, particularly among youth and young adults, and has been a frequent topic of discussion at this blog (see What are social networks?, Watch Out Google, Here Comes Facebook, and 12 Ways to Share the Gospel on the Internet).

The Stats
According to comScore, Facebook recently took over MySpace as the leading social networking site, attracting 132 million visitors world-wide in June 2008.  In the US, Facebook’s popularity still trails MySpace, though Hitwise reports that Facebook saw a 40% growth in US market share over the last year while MySpace’s share declined.  Alexa reports that Facebook is 5th most popular Web site in the world behind Yahoo!, Google, YouTube and Windows Live.  Facebook has particularly high usage among teens and young adults; according to a 2006 study, Facebook was named the second most popular thing among undergraduate college students, and only ranked lower than the iPod.

What this Means for Parents and Leaders of Youth
Chances are that if you are a parent of a teenage or a youth leader, you are probably less technically savvy than the youth you work with.  Many parents and youth leaders I have spoken with don’t really understand what Facebook is and most have never visited the Web site.  I’m not advocating spying on your kids (I’ll leave that up to your own discretion) but I do think parents and leaders should visit Facebook and see what the youth are doing online. You will probably be surprised at what you find; pleasantly surprised in some instances, unpleasantly surprised in other cases.

My wife and I have worked with the youth in Church callings for years.  We love staying in contact with these youth that we came to care about so much and Facebook provides a great way to do just that.  It is so satisfying to see the youth that we remember as Deacons and Teachers, Beehives and Miamaids, growing up, entering college, going on missions, and marrying in the temple.  On the flip side, it is saddening to see the poor choices some of the youth are making, as reflected in the things they write on Facebook and the pictures they post.  

Like the Internet in general, there is much good and much evil easily available on social media Web sites such as Facebook.  Church leaders have stated that the Internet is a great tool for hastening the work of the Lord, but they have also repeatedly counseled members to avoid evils that are available on the Web.  Elder L. Edward Brown of the Seventy taught:  ”You have access through the Internet to resources one cannot begin to imagine. However, lurking there as well is a sinister evil, as deadly as a rapidly growing cancer…Self-discipline is required relative to the materials you choose to read and the videos you may select to view.” (”Bring Your Mission Home with You,” Ensign, Dec. 2000, 18).

Join In
I believe that by joining in this online social network, we parents and leaders can help, guide and protect the youth.  To sign up for a free Facebook account, simply go to and fill out the form on the home page. Once you’re in, browse around, see what it’s all about, and request friendships with your youth, family and other friends.  To learn more about how to create an account and connect with friends, check out A beginner’s guide to Facebook, or this Videos Series, “How to Use Facebook”, by

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