Some interesting blog posts and research have emerged recently shedding light on how teenagers are using social media tools.
In a blog post Josh Miller wrote about his 15 year old sister’s attitude to social tools and how her use of them differed from his own and that of his peers. He noted that she described Tumblr simply as a photo service, rather than a blogging tool. She and her friends were purely consumers of information on the tool, rather than publishers or creators. She also confirmed the view that has been discussed here previously – namely that (generally speaking) Twitter simply does not appeal to this age group.
Inspired by Miller’s post, others joined in the debate. Gary Tan sought to find more hard data. He surveyed just over 1000 young people in two age groups (13-18 and 19-25) to find out more about which services young people were using regularly. Tumblr came top of the tools for both age groups (61% of 13-18 year olds; 57% in the older group). Facebook came second, followed by Twitter. Instagram and Snapchat also had significant usage figures, in particular with the younger age group.
Another blogger also noted the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram with their teenaged children and friends and reports how they are using Google+ hangouts to – well – hangout.
Finally, Justin Hoenke, a teen librarian working in Portland, ME responded, reporting on how 12-19 year olds are using the library space and technology within it. Interestingly he reported an ongoing interest in Facebook amongst his teens. When it comes to providing Facebook support he is often helping teens regain access to their accounts, mostly because they have forgotten their email account passwords (due to infrequent use). He also differed from other bloggers, noting that he has seen none of his teens using either Instagram or Snapchat.
His other observations include:
Music and entertainment
- YouTube is an entertainment platform for teens, providing access to free music, TV shows and more.
- They use YouTube as their main source of entertainment and music (unless they have iTunes vouchers, in which case they often need help to redeem them). They are not using music streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora.
- Hoenke agrees that when teens do use Tumblr they do not use it as a blogging tool. He has set up a teen-themed Tumblr for his library.
- If they do use Twitter, they are doing it differently to follow celebrities or for ‘rambling’