The Pew Research Center released a report this week on teen usage of social media that should interest all parents, not just those graced with a teenager.
After questioning 802 kids between the ages of 12 and 17, the overall conclusion of the findings was that while a staggering 94% of them are on Facebook, they’re kind of over it.
Many teens are migrating to other platforms, predominantly Instagram and Twitter. The Huffington Post had a great analysis of the Pew study with quotes from teens that cracked me up– between the stereotypical way they talk, and their candor.
Teens say Facebook has become a “social burden” and involves too much turmoil. Twitter and Instagram are more parent-free, and the limited characters or caption writing keeps drama to a minimum.
Let’s face it, kids want Insta-satisfaction and photo captions are more fun than Facebook posts, which can be long, preachy or self-absorbed.
Other than Twitter– which had a 24% teen usage last year– all other social media platforms grab only single digit percentages of teen users. I was surprised that sites like Tumblr and GooglePlus were not more popular with the kids.
You may remember that I would not let my 13-year-old, Jacob, get a Facebook page because he was underage, and I feared it would create more problems than it was worth. Case in point: the study found that despite all the media attention, and parent and school warnings against sharing information online, 21% of teens have shared their cell number, 54% shared their email address and 17% shared their location on Facebook. 17% also admitted they were contacted by strangers in a way that made them “scared and uncomfortable.”
But more than half the kids said they had had a positive sharing experience online that “made them feel good about themselves,” and feel more connected to their peers.
As soon as Jacob got his mini iPad he was feverishly posting and liking photos on Instagram. I’m not sure why I have the illusion that Instagram is safer than Facebook but now I’m forced to weed through pages of smiley faces, hearts and teen jargon to make sure he’s not threatening his future by posting something stupid.
What’s most disturbing is the way kids gauge their popularity –and to some extent their self-esteem — by their social media stats. As if adolescence wasn’t hard enough: now they can measure actual friend counts and likes.
With such huge usage, Facebook will still command youth attention for a while. I’m already a Twitter addict. Now I just have a better excuse to be checking it. But if you want to keep up with your kids’ online profile, or see what the future holds for your younger kids, get yourself on Instagram and start clicking.