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Social Media: Teens & Social Media, Part 1
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Social Media: Teens & Social Media, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

Social Media: Teens & Social Media, Part 1

Executive Leadership Articles

Social Media: Teens & Social Media, Part 1

“Searching” opens this weekend and it’s sure to have people talking about teens and social media. John Cho stars in the suspense thriller as a father whose daughter disappears while supposedly at a friend’s house for a study session. Told entirely through smartphone and computer screens, the story follows Cho’s character as he slowly uncovers evidence through social media platforms that he never really knew his daughter: she’s been presenting a pretend life to her family while she lives a completely different life outside the home.

We already know teens are plugged in far more than in generations past, connected to each other and to an outside world in a way latchkey Gen Xers, raised by television and a microwave oven, never were. But how deeply are they involved, and how dangerously? Several stories recently about teens and social media may paint the picture.

A study by eMarketer finds that the number one social media platform for teens is Snapchat, with Instagram and Facebook trailing by a few million teen users. There was a time not long ago when Facebook ruled every demographic, but popularity among older people is almost a certain omen that teens will find something else to like. Young people like Snapchat for its cool filters and because “snaps” disppear after 24 hours, leaving no trail for nosey authority figures. To contrast, Facebook is still most popular among Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. It’s tangential but interesting to note that second among Boomers is Pinterest, while only 3 million Boomers use Snapchat at all.

The Guardian posted a nice story last week about teens who have given up social media, shunning the obsessive behavior of many of their peers. Some cite the desire for in-person connection, disappointed in friends who choose to chat on their smartphones with people sitting in the same room. Others reject their peers’ preoccupation with social media popularity, so concerned about getting likes that they’ve become boring people. Again, the huge popularity of these platforms with older people seems, if not the spark, the catalyst toward a certain kind of uncoolness.

Pew Research Center’s report, “How Teens and Parents Navigate Screen Time and Device Distractions” echoes some of these sentiments. A majority of teens (54 percent) say they spend too much time on their phones, with similar numbers saying they try to self-limit their time on phones, video games, and social media. “Overall,” says the report, “56 percent of teens associate the absence of their cellphone with at least one of these three emotions: loneliness, being upset, or feeling anxious. Additionally, girls are more likely than boys to feel anxious or lonely without their cellphone.”

The popularity of digital detox camps among professionals and teens’ cutting back themselves on their time in front of screens might be seen as an encouraging sign. The early rush of new technology making possible things we never dreamed of has led many of us toward self-assessment about what these platforms have done to our lives--and our happiness. It’s very easy to look at the news and to shake our heads at today’s teens. “They’re doing WHAT on YouTube?” is today’s version of the Eighties’ “They’re doing WHAT with Liquid Paper?” But the Gen Xers survived the 80s, and these Gen Zers will survive the 2010s, perhaps with better heads on their shoulders than we’re giving them credit for.

On the other hand, the Pew report also finds that overwhelming majorities of parents express concern about their kids’ time spent online, so perhaps these young people are developing such excellent self-awareness because of the excellent influence of their elders!

Reference Links:
eMarketer: https://www.emarketer.com/content/facebook-is-tops-with-everyone-but-teens
The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/29/teens-desert-social-media
Pew Research Center: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/08/22/how-teens-and-parents-navigate-screen-time-and-device-distractions


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Social Media: Teens & Social Media, Part 1 - Executive Leadership Articles

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