The Kids Might Be Learning Faster About How to Use Social Media

As I mentioned yesterday, the article about how college admission folks do, in fact, check online profiles of potential students, there was another thought that occurred to me.

Us older folks like to read something like that, and think that yes, these kids today with their selfies and risque photos, should really pay more attention to what college admissions offices, and potential employers are going to see.

I would like to posit that many already know that.

What are the fastest growing social media apps for teens and young adults? They may have profiles on Twitter and Facebook, but those are mostly just to connect to various things that they like. That’s not where they spend their time and interact with each other, though. That happens on SnapChat, Instragram Stories, WhatsApp, etc.

What’s different about those networks? I can put something up, share it with my friends, and then it goes away. No one is going to find it a year from now and hold it against me or take it out of context. Now, I’m not going to claim that they are doing this with the long term view, they are still kids after all. They are probably just using those to keep stuff from teachers, parents, and non-friends, but it’s serving the same purpose. They seem to have comprehended, much quicker than the adults online, that maybe it makes more sense to have a variety of smaller social networks as opposed to one large one.

They’re not wrong. I’ve found myself using Instagram and SnapChat Stories as a way to put up silly things and then have them go away. I’ve been using Facebook Messenger more to have group conversations. I’d probably use Signal or WhatsApp or even Slack if I happened to know anyone who wanted to communicate that way. It makes sense. It’s part of our nature as human beings to communicate in different ways with different groups of people, and it makes sense to want to have some of those communications be less than permanent.

Of course, just because they seem to get this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be teaching them some basic online safety. Sure, that photo might not be public, but any of your friends who receives it could screenshot it, and make it public! But as I have said before, this does seem to be a more natural way for people to interact, and that’s not a bad thing.

Now if we can just get all of the adults to quit sharing things that aren’t true, we might get somewhere. Trust me, when you share things without checking the authenticity of it, we judge you. 😉

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