What Teens Really Think of Social Media


Image by Vandelay Designs

It’s estimated that 92% of American teens access the internet daily according to Pew Research Center. With smart phones becoming commonplace (nearly 75% of teens have access to one), it’s not surprising that they stay connected to their friends via social platforms. While it’s interesting to have this statistical data, I found this article on Medium by 19-yr-old college student Andrew Watts particularly fascinating because it’s his personal take on social media — what he and his friends use and why they like it or don’t like it.

Here’s 5 things I learned about what teens really think of social media:

1. “Facebook is dead.” Well, sort of. It seems that it’s not cool to be on Facebook (once you get out of middle school), but it’s more annoying to have to answer the question, “Why aren’t you on FB?” As a result, teens are obligingly still on Facebook. It’s confirmed to be the most widely used platform according to a recent report. However, Watts suggests that they use it find people, connect with them, and check out FB groups. Then they leave.

2. Privacy please. Watts and his friends prefer apps that preserve some of their anonymity. There is pseudo sense of privacy in Instagram: if you comment on an image, only that user is notified about it, so unless you tag another user, they’re less likely to see your comment, making it less public. Your friends will probably not notice if you’re tagged in an embarrassing photo because your followers are NOT automatically notified about it, as they tend to be on Facebook. Tumblr is appealing because you don’t have to attach your identity to the blog you’ve created; you can have random followers based on similar interests. In fact, you can easily change your URL at any time, making it more difficult for that parent stalker to find you. On Snapchat, you can control who sees your posts, so there’s less worry that your boss or mom will find those incriminating photos, especially if they only last for 24 hours.

3. Anti-ads. One of the reasons why they’re fleeing from Facebook is because of the annoying ads, says Watts. Instagram is beloved because there’s no ads! Sure, sometimes companies make announcements, but because you can’t click on links on Instagram, it’s harder to spam.

4. Quality is better than quantity. Believe it or not, teens don’t want to be bombarded with information. One reason Watts cites why Instagram is so popular is because the content is more curated. People don’t post 15,000 times a day, so when they post less, they tend to be more discriminating about what they share. You also choose who you follow, so the feed is probably a sampling of things you’d rather see.

5. No Adults Allowed. Like the sign on the bedroom or clubhouse door, teens don’t want their daggy parents around. That’s why they are favoring apps that are not yet populated by their parents. Which is why Facebook is so NOT cool, and teens are lovin’ Instagram, Snapchat, tumblr, Yik Yak, or Vine.



About Woolypear

Woolypear is the pseudonym of designer/illustrator Lana Lê. See her work at woolypear.com and kidcandoodle.com.