6 Tips on Social Media from 16 Year-Olds

By Casey Danton

Remember the days of passing notes in class? There was always that one teacher who would read them out loud, ensuring social suicide as your crush on Billy Thompson was spilled. Well, now teens are using texting apps to pass notes; even if the teacher could get through the iPhone’s Touch ID technology and into Snapchat, the conversation would have already been swept up by Snapchat’s ghosts. Teens are the future of social media, and you may be surprised to find how differently they’re using it.

My little sister, Tori, just turned 16 last month. I sat down with her and a group of her friends to find out their six tips for how they use social media.

1. Teens are not using Facebook.

Facebook just isn’t cool. When your grandmother is on the same site as you, it’s time to move on. Sure, Facebook is a great tool to scope someone out who you haven’t met yet, but now that there are a variety of apps that give information, most teens are moving away from the social site. DNA India reports that the Facebook app Messenger is more popular among teens than actual Facebook. This isn’t to say they won’t join it say, in their college days, as they meet new people, but when it comes to teens and Facebook, they’re out.

2. Vine is where it’s at.

You probably don’t use Vine. That’s because it’s mostly filled with people screaming, loud music, and offensive jokes. “About six in 10 users are women, with 18-20 year-olds the top demographic,” says Media Bistro. And maybe teens have something here; video is projected to be 55% of all internet traffic by the year 2016, according to the same Media Bistro article.

3. Apps come and go.

While Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine take the top spots in teen favoritism currently, teens are also fickle. The top app usually doesn’t stick for long, as it’s dethroned by updates from other apps or new releases. While some teens liked Snapchat the best three months ago, now they’re on an Instagram kick….or on KIK.

4. Schools are blocking apps.

To better keep kids focused on their work, schools disable the use of certain apps on school grounds. If you target teens, you may want to pick up the strategy of doing so after school hours or on the weekends. However, most kids are smart enough now to know how to bypass these blocks. Among my sister and her friends, the blocked apps and websites at their high schools included Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, YikYak, and KIK. Still, all of them knew how to bypass the system and access these.

5. Teens love messaging apps.

Teens are all about messaging all the time, whether it’s KIK, Snapchat, or Facebook Messenger. Vine and Instagram now have direct messaging options to keep up with demand. When asked who texts them them most, it’s mainly family, texting is not the preferred way to get in touch. Why use apps to converse when you have a perfectly good phone with text? Teens say it’s about outreach. Want to strike up a conversation with that cute senior boy, but not really sure how to go about it? High schoolers connect Facebook to their messaging apps, allowing them to chat with any casual acquaintance they want without the need of physically trading numbers. Not Facebook friends with someone? Now that we live in the digital age, it’s pretty easy to find anyone’s social accounts anywhere and send a simple friend request. Problem solved; welcome to the future.

6. They also know the risks.

While all of this online sharing and talking may sound a little scary, especially in the hands of a minor, most teens know what they’re doing. When asked what they would share with someone who doesn’t know anything about social media, all the kids answered: Watch what you share and don’t be stupid. Sure, you’ll hear about the errant teenager that did something thoughtless on social media and got in trouble, but most of these kids grew up with iPhones in their hands. They knew all about virality and the risk of social media before the training wheels were taken off their bikes.

Did this blog make you feel old or surprise you in any way? (Don’t worry you’re not alone.) Let us know below!