Teens and Social Media

February 28, 2008 at 7:35 pm 2 comments

Two findings stood out for me in particular from the Pew report on teens and social media: first, that email continues to fall out of favor among young adults; and second, that teens are more likely to put at least some privacy protections on their online content than their adult counterparts.

With both of these trends, I have to wonder if today’s teens will carry their media habits into adulthood. While colleges are certainly integrating social networking and text and instant messaging into their daily operations (through existing facebooks, online reference, and emergency text networks), I find it hard to imagine a college world without email.  And I certainly used AIM and ICQ (oh, those were the days!) , technologies I’ve now all but abandoned, much more when I was in high school than I did as a college student. (I didn’t have a cell phone until my sophomore year of college, so text messaging wasn’t even on the table when I was a teen.) Will today’s teens continue to eschew email when they hit higher education, or will they be forced to join the rest of us when they discover that many professors and employers use email as the primary communication tool?

I  wonder the same thing about online privacy. I’m glad to hear that teenagers often protect their online content, even if just minimally. Frankly I wish more adults would keep a few more things private–there are way too many drunken antics on Facebook and MySpace for me. (Clearly that’s my inner spinster librarian talking.) But will those teens grow into adults who plaster their profiles with cell phone photos of margaritas and racy halloween costumes?

I suppose only time will tell.


Entry filed under: Education. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Linda  |  March 3, 2008 at 9:42 am

    This is interesting to me from a personal/professional level because I spent time last year working really hard to get less email. The way I did that was to use Twitter, texting, and wikis heavily. Student assignments come into a wiki, questions from students and others come on Twitter, etc. Email is now reserved for a very few types of conversation.

    What I’m thinking about is whether or not by the time say the youngest teens get to the work world, more and more people will have found that IM, chat, microblogging, etc. are the best tools for quick communication. Although, then if you think about it, by the time 13 year olds are in the work world – about 10 years from now – there will be entirely new ways to communicate.

    What it seems to me is that as librarians we need to be ready to communicate in the way the teens we serve want and need to communicate. Instead of “forcing” them to use our tools. As the tools teens use change we could change too. Right?

    As I said in class, on the privacy topic, teens do think and we have to give them credit for that. In 460 this week students are listening to an interview with David Warlick where he says that we do more harm than good when we assume teens can’t be trusted online. The URL is http://audio.edtechlive.com/Warlick.mp3

  • 2. pandanose  |  March 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    For me there’s also the question of quick communication vs. quality communication. No, they’re not always mutually exclusive, but at least in my experience they often are. I’m addicted to texting, but you’re the first professor I’ve ever felt comfortable communicating with in that way. I use gchat with my friends, but not with the professional contacts I have even if I see that they’re online. And I’ve had more than my share of texting conversations that went totally awry because neither one of us could read inflection or tone.

    So I’m still a huge email fan, because a) it usually forces me to choose my words more wisely b) I still consider it more professional, and c) I love getting mail.


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