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The Obsession with Social Media and Teenagers

As social media tools and services become increasingly popular – heck, my parents are asking about this Twitter thing! – one of the more interesting developments is the angst among the digiterati that teenagers aren’t enthusiastic about social media.

Whether it’s Nielsen suggesting teenagers don’t like Twitter or an Ofcom report that teenagers are abandoning social media because older people are embracing it, there’s a palpable sense of anxiety that the young’uns aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

After all, social media is cool, hip and leading-edge so the teenagers should be all over it. Instead, they’re apparently leaving the scene while the rest of us are climbing on the bandwagon.

What does this say about social media? And what does it mean about the future?

If teenagers – the next generation who will have a huge influence on future trends – aren’t digging social media, does that means all the hype about social media is going to disappear? Is social media failing to resonate with teenagers because it’s not the way they want to communicate?

Maybe social media is becoming a medium dominated by marketers as opposed to a personal form of expression, which may explains why teenagers are so blase about it.

Maybe teenagers are just obsessed with text-messaging. Or maybe they’re turned off by anything their parents like. Or maybe teenagers are just fickle. Or maybe they lie when they’re asked about their social media habits.

What do you think? Is social media doomed because teenagers don’t like it?


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  • Nav

    It's also worth taking a look at this critique by Danah Boyd, who suggests the 'teens don't use social media' idea is actually based on some flawed methodology.

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2009/08

  • http://squone.blogspot.com/ Crispin Heath

    As well as texting none of this really takes IM into account. Teenagers are much more likely to have a relationship through mobile than anything else. I really don't see why we're worrying. Frankly we're right at the beginning of the social media revolution. Once Open ID and OAuth become standard, this obsession with who is using which site will become completely irrelevant as social comunications will be the internet and it won't be categorised anymore. It's just a big fuss about nothing. Too much concentration on the short term with no vision for what the future is going to be.

  • http://www.cartt.ca Greg O'Brien

    Jaysus! Maybe we're in the midst of a massive, ongling media transformation – that might never end. Seems to me "media" will now forever be fluid. So if there's no "mass media" anymore, how can there be any way to generalize that teens don't use socmed? Some will, some won't. So what?

  • http://www.medagogy.edublogs.org Justin Medved

    Not really sure where this claim came from. The teenagers I have worked with all over the world (Asia, Middle East, North America) are much more plugged in than most adults. They however do not waste time dabbling with new tools and services. Why bother? If everyone is in one place why go elsewhere. Social networking = Facebook, Viral media = Youtube, IM = text and MSN Messanger.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/markevans markevans

      Justin,

      Thanks for the insight. Good to get it from someone who spends a lot of time with them – unlike the rest of us!

      Mark