Recently I came across the title of a blog that caught my eye, This is How Facebook is Going to Die. Predicting the demise of Facebook is a favorite pastime of Internet pundits. Just do a Google search on “facebook demise” to see what I mean. So far, they’ve all been wrong, of course. Facebook is alive and well. Still, articles like these frequently have some interesting things to say about “the social network”, so I read on.
The blog sited a Pew Internet study that indicates teens’ enthusiasm for Facebook is waning and then went on to say that this trend will continue until Facebook ultimately dies. Ok, whatever. But the article did make me wonder what are some of the popular Facebook alternatives for teens.
Other Social Networks Teenagers Like
The Pew and other studies have found that the vast majority of the teenagers they surveyed still use Facebook, but this trend may have reached a plateau. Teens are seeking out alternative social media forums to interact with friends to avoid the watchful eyes of their parents who are, in many cases, avid Facebook users.
Garry Tan, a partner at Y Combinator, conducted a survey of 1,038 teenagers asking them what social networking services they use, the results of which are shown in the following graph.
According to this study, Tumblr seems to be more popular than Facebook, while Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat have attracted a sizable number of teenagers. I’m sure you’ve heard of Twitter, the micro blogging service used to “tweet” news items limited to 140 characters. Instagram is the photo posting service, recently acquired by Facebook, where 40 million photos are posted per day.
The others may be less familiar to you so here is a brief summary of these social networking services and a couple of others I tossed in that are not mentioned in any of the surveys I read, but are getting some press.
Tumblr is a blogging platform that features short posts with heavy use of images. It is very popular with people under the age of 25. The Tumblr community is noted for the passion of its users as reflected by the amount of time they spend interacting with the service per day, something Facebook longs for.
SnapChat is a messaging service where users can send each other text, photos, videos and drawings. Each user confines the recipients of their content to specific lists, kind of like Twitter private lists. Photos are supposedly disposed of after posting, a practice that contrasts with most other social networking services that keep your data forever. As of February 2013, over 60 million photos are posted each day, exceeding even Instagram’s rate.
Vine is like the Twitter of online video posting services. Vine users post looping videos 6 seconds long, that seem to cater to people who don’t want to take much time creating content. That said, check out the video on tip #2 of this Vine how-to blog and you’ll see that good videos take some work, even 6 second ones.
Unlike these others, Pheed is a social networking service I had never heard of until I did the research for this blog. Pheed lets users share all forms of digital content including – videos, audio files, photos, and even live stream events. It’s estimated that 81% of Pheed’s user population is between the ages of 14 and 25.
Keeping Up With Your Kids Online
If your main concern about your teens being online is they may publicly expose themselves in regrettable ways, the latest social networking services that revolve around photo and video exhibition give you a lot to worry about. At least while you are on Facebook with your kids (you did insist they friend you right?) you can easily monitor what they are up to. But what’s a parent to do when their kids are on a half-dozen social networking services, none of which the parent knows anything about?
Back in April of 2011, I wrote a blog that discussed 10 social networking tips for parents. Those rules of engagement are still the same. It’s all about learning something about social networking yourself and talking to your kids. You need to educate them about navigating the slippery slope of public exposure to help develop a set of values about expressing themselves appropriately. There’s no substitute for good communication with our children.
Several of these newer social networking services encourage creative content. Properly used with guidance from you, their parents or guardians, I think several of these sites can become meaningful outlets for teens’ creativity.