If Facebook is Out For Teens…What’s In??

23 Mar

We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook’’ from a Facebook regulatory filing with the SEC, February 2013.

Teens and pre-teens use social media a lot. Recent figures from The Pew Institute’s Survey of Social Media Use suggest that more than 80% of teenagers and young adults are using social media, well above the internet average (67%). A 2010 study suggested that the average teen spend 110 minutes a day on social networks. Increasingly teens are using social media on mobile devices, that’s phones or iPod touches with a wi-fi connection, not sitting at the family’s computer, which makes parental supervision tougher.

But if teens and pre-teens are using social media a lot while deserting Facebook, where are they going?

Firstly, it’s important to understand that most teens continue to use Facebook, just not as much and for specific uses. Facebook is now full of adults. Can a teen really refuse a friend request from their grandparents or their aunts and uncles? In addition Facebook’s privacy record is questionable, which make teens leery. So while teens keep a Facebook account to post safe pictures and Instant Message with their families, they’re using other social media platforms to connect with friends.

Where are they going? Here are 5 of the most popular alternatives:

  1. Instagram: Yup, not just for hipsters to post pictures of their food, the popular photo sharing service is also a popular teen connection social media network. It allows teens a forum to share pictures taken with mobile devices and they can chat with their friends. Proper use of the privacy setting can make it feel private. Instagram is becoming the preferred platform for tweens, those under 13 year olds who are ‘officially’ excluded from most social networks.
  2. Snapchat: Launched in September 2011 and developed by 4 students from Stanford, Snapchat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a list of friends. Senders determine how long messages can be viewed, up to 10 seconds, after which they are deleted from the recipient’s device and the company’s servers. The recipient list and the time limit make teens feel safer when posting pictures, but Snapchat insist that this is no guarantee of privacy, as many teens have discovered.
  3. Kik Messenger: Kik Messenger is a free mobile app that allows user to send and receive unlimited messages over wi-fi and cellular, bypassing a phone’s traditional text service. Being able to send and receive unlimited messages without charges is a boon for chatty teens. It also means that parents are less likely to know how much messaging is actually happening. Since a Kik account isn’t attached to a physical phone number, it’s more anonymous. It could be a fictitious username or a string of numbers and can be easily changed if needed. Users can also hold multiple accounts. All of this adds to a greater feeling of privacy for teens.
  4. Twitter: Over the past two years the number of 12-17 years olds on Twitter has doubled from 8% to 16%. Teens like twitter because they can be more anonymous. They don’t need to show their real name, can hold multiple accounts with various identities and can change their handle or account easily. They can also use simple privacy settings to protect tweets and send what amounts to a ‘group text’. Add to that being able to follow The Biebs and you can see the appeal :)
  5. Pheed: Pheed is a platform for sharing user-created content such as text, pictures, sound, video, and live broadcasts. Users subscribe to other’s channels and view uploaded content in real-time. They can ‘love’ or ‘heartache’ content, hashtag it and provide ‘pheedback,’ as well as share content from others. Pheed is popularized by endorsements from celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, et al) who use it as a way to promote their content (MySpace anyone?). A huge advantage for Pheed users is they retain control of their uploaded content, unlike Facebook, and no one is allowed to use it or edit it without permission. Users also have the option to charge for their content, which Pheed hopes means the content is of higher quality.

The movement of teens and tweens away from Facebook is fueled by privacy concerns. They are gravitating towards services that will allow them develop a separate identity and connect with others on their own terms. Some of the social media platforms outlines above address some of those concerns, but don’t change the basic fact of social media. Teen users need to understand that the internet is always public all the time. There might be the appearance of privacy but that is an illusion and users must always assume that anything they post can be shared. Parents and educators need to help helps teens understand that the internet is public and never forgets .

6 Responses to “If Facebook is Out For Teens…What’s In??”

  1. Bryn Williams March 23, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I have seen a large amount of students moving to both twitter and snap chat. For twitter, they have not yet set all the privacy setting they should. Also they believe that the picture actually disappears after ten seconds on snap chat.

  2. Fred Galang (@NomadCreatives) March 24, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    “The movement of teens and tweens away from Facebook is fueled by privacy concerns.”

    Privacy is actually the least of their concerns. As a digital media teacher in high school, I’ve seen drastic changes in the past 5 years. Five years ago, none of my gr. 9 students have even considered and / or used Twitter. They thought it was for old people. Tweens and teens are a fickle bunch. They’re like leaves in a stream of water. Facebook has indeed become very adult (given the changes they’ve made to the site over the years). Twitter offers them speed and immediate response. Instagram offers the same. I’m convinced that Facebook bought Instagram to anticipate this. As Facebook “matures”, they now have Instagram to swoop in to catch the remaining younger market. Brilliant business move I say.

    HOWEVER, given this fact: the ED system is lagging behind in how to teach kids how to use this powerful tool properly. We all know Facebook’s diminishing value with young people. Their preference for Instagram and Twitter is fact. What are we doing about it as educators.

    In light of this, I’m creating several curriculum portions on the proper use of Twitter, Instagram and Vine in my media class. They are now an intrinsic part of what I do as a teacher.

    • cherylmarlettawoodsCheryl Woods March 24, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Fred, I believe you have captured the essence here:
      1. Recognition that inherent in teen culture is the need to push and test boundaries, explore, and be trend setters amongst their peers and/or followers of their peers in an attempt to carve out an identity and belong

      2. The need for our lessons to continually evolve and remain current to be engaging and relevant to our students

      Point 1, the cultural rite of passage as child transitions to adult, will withstand the test of time in my opinion. The means has and always will continue to evolve and the issues that arise as a result will also evolve. As educators, we contend with the fallout of these issues on a daily basis. While it is integral to our profession to continually evolve with our students, the overarching message and lesson is steadfast and remains relevant – the teachings of integrity and moral stewardship. Whether we are dealing with a bully on the playground or the complexity of a cyber bullying issue, a bully is a bully is a bully and the answer is not in teaching anti bullying behaviours alone, but rather focussing on teaching behaviours that promote safe and caring schools and communities as well.

      To do this, Point 2 states we must model these behaviours in ways that will transfer across mediums, regardless of the platform. As we continue to navigate our way through the digital age, lessons must continue to evolve to remain relevant and engaging. Just a thought, but do you plan to work in any Inquiry based learning into your newly infused lessons? What if the project were for students to present the pros and cons of privacy settings in 2 new and different social media platforms and the possible positive and negative impacts of each where you could weave in Social Responsibility lessons?

      I am encouraged by your insightfulness Fred. It is critical we not only teach the tools, but how to use the tools responsibly and how to avoid the pitfalls. In doing so, we are teaching our students how to think critically and responsibly. Afterall, these are pillars of education that transcend time and the tools are simply the current means.

      Thank you for your post Fred :D

    • Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99) March 26, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      WRT privacy I think there 2 ideas important to students there. Privacy from their families, to be able to define themselves outside their family. If mum and dad are on FB that can’t happen there, so they’re looking to new places to do that. Privacy also in terms of ‘do I control my content’. Again FB loses on this. If kids put a video up on Pheed they control it and who makes $ from it.

  3. John T. Spencer (@johntspencer) March 26, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I have mixed feelings about Pheed and the notion of liking/disliking content in a numerical way. Although I am not an overly positive person (shocking, I know) I like the default of “like” or apathy.

    Although I still prefer Twitter, I am finding that Instagram feels so much more like what I want Facebook to feel like. I like the way it opens up a window into someone’s world rather than opening a window into one’s mind.

    • Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99) March 26, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      I think the fracturing of social media is interesting. Same way that everyone used to watch a big network, now everyone watched niche channels, same thing with social media. Facebook is like NBC or CBS. Everybody still has it but the cool stuff isn’t there anymore.

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