This post may be a little outside of our mission here at Nibletz to be “The Voice of Startups Everywhere Else” but after reading Josh Miller’s, founder of Branch, Tenth Grade Tech Trends the conversation seems appropriate.
Over the holidays I was lucky enough to head back to my hometown in Indiana to spend plenty of quality time with my younger siblings.
My siblings are your typical, Midwestern middle school and high schoolers. One Direction and Taylor Swift dominate their Pandora while interacting with friends is priority number one.
My two sisters are 13 and 16 respectively and my brother is an 18 year old senior. My youngest sister, 10, would cry if I didn’t mention her but her thoughts are not discussed. Although it should be noted her and her friends are already addicted to Instagram, using my parents’ phones to check it whenever she gets the chance.
I asked the older three a wide range of questions about their usage of social media and the overall sediment amongst theirs peers of the various networks.
What I heard was a bit of a shock.
The biggest surprise had to come when I asked my 13 year old sister if she used Facebook? “No, it’s for old people and it’s stupid! Nobody has it anymore.” (yes, I realize you’re supposed to be 13 to have a Facebook account but the majority of her friends we’re on it well before). While I laughed at her choice of words, my jaw almost hit the floor. Is it true? Has Facebook become so “uncool” that they had all already left?
I heard similar responses when I asked the other two. My brother had recently deleted his account but said that many of his friends hadn’t because, “their whole high school career is on there.” It seems my brother’s friends, who mostly adopted the service about four years ago, currently use it to look back at the good times they’ve had, not to post new content.
I got a very difference response when I asked them about Instagram. Each uses it everyday. It has completely replace Facebook as their default photo service.
This echoes Josh’s takeaway that Facebook was smart to buy Instagram.
But what about Twitter? Are the kids as hooked as you and me? It’s been pointed out before that Twitter is not a mainstream technology and Josh’s sister said, “I guess a few kids use it.”
I found a little different response. Both my brother and 16 year old sister, along with “most” of their friends, check it daily (but less than Instagram). However, It’s primary function for them is to broadcast things that make them look funny or cool and to find out what their friends are doing, not to find links and join interesting conversations.
The 16 year old said her friends are really into sharing quotes and other things to get them more retweets and followers. As for the youngest, “None of my friends use it.” The 16 year old was relatively new to the service while my brother had been on it for a few years. This lead me to believe Twitter is adopted more as they get older.
Now it was time to ask about Snapchat. Is it really a sexting app?
Probably not the most appropriate conversation to have with your little sisters (let alone get honest responses) but I drilled my brother on it. He said, “Yeah, I’ve heard some people use it for that but it’s definitely not its main purpose.”
All of them proclaimed that it was used to, “share funny pics with close friends that are too ugly or ridiculous for Instagram.” As for their frequency of usage, “basically everyday.”
The most insightful takeaway regarding Snapchat came from my 16 year old sister. “I’ve used it for a while now but it’s getting boring. I feel like I have to respond to my friends though.”
This makes me wonder, is Snapchat a fad? More of a viral service that goes out of vogue after receiving the 1000th picture of your friend pulling their cheeks apart in the mirror?
Teens are “so over” Facebook. Instagram is now the de facto photo sharing app. Twitter has their foot in the door. Snapchat isn’t just for sexting.
One final point is age seems to be the largest determinate in how teens use these networks and for the most part not geography or cliques
While these observations are clearly anecdotal and are by no means meant to be scientific (I can hear the comments on Hacker News now), it does provide another interesting look at how teens are currently using the world’s largest and fastest growing social networks.
Let me know what you think? Does this go along with what you’ve seen or is my family an anomaly?