Teens are NOT abandoning Facebook, Twitter — at least that’s what my students say

After reading this story on Quartz, I figured I needed to verify this ongoing debate about teens abandoning Facebook and Twitter for more “private” and “intimate” alternatives like Snapchat or Facebook Messenger.

So I posted this story to both my classes in digital publishing. And here’s what they said. (But before I go listing down their reasons, they all agreed, they’re NOT migrating away from Facebook or Twitter anytime soon).

Disclaimer: This is NOT based on any scientific method such as random surveys of a certain demographic of Filipino teenagers. What you are about to read are personal observations & notes from two groups of students in my PUBLISH class.

  1. They are using various social media as channels for specific communication purposes. Facebook is seen as a public square where they are less keen on sharing private and intimate matters. They move from one social media network to another based on the perceived level of privacy. (Facebook has some privacy settings, guys).
  2. Facebook is where old people congregate–some teens admit to blocking their parents–an idea that baffled me, considering I have daughters on Facebook!
  3. They talk a lot through messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, etc. That’s their version of a water-cooler effect–a phenomenon where people gather in a certain area to chat.
  4. Twitter is where they post random thoughts, rants, and opinions about things that matter to them. They go to Twitter to argue a point. They also see Twitter as source of news about politics, the society and celebrities.
  5. Snapchat, to them, is a “private social network,” but it is NOT for everyone. They believe that Snapchat is designed for more “narcissistic” fellows— or those who want to share moments in their lives to smaller group of trusted friends.
  6. Snapchat is where you post crazy stuff, one of my students said. I asked if they are willing to add me as a friend on Snapchat. I got jeers and grunts. Not a good idea.
  7. Not all students in my class are on Snapchat. But they are all on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter & Instagram. Some say all social media platforms are important, but to a certain degree. They have preferences. But they admit that they love to TALK all the time, thus social media networks are perfect channels for this compulsion. (Fellow teachers, your students are talkative, albeit virtually, during classes).
  8. Facebook, to some students, is useful for school matters. Ha! I do require them to be in a Facebook group. But there are alternatives like — er, Slack, anyone?
  9. Again, they all insist that THERE IS NO MASS MIGRATION from Facebook/Twitter to Snapchat and messaging services.
  10. Teens feel lost in more “adult-driven” conversations that fill-up their feeds. They feel that Facebook is clogged with topics that they don’t care about. Thus, they gravitate towards simpler and accessible services like Snapchat.
  11. Meanwhile, one student went on to say that she’s getting annoyed by her 12-year-old sister’s random postings coupled with emoticons.

This debate about teens and millennials moving away from Facebook and Twitter will become less of an issue, as the younger generation discover niche communities where their voices are heard. Facebook and Twitter are both becoming global platforms where conversations are varied. There’s too much noise in these platforms. It’s a natural progression for human beings to socialize with people who share their same interests–and of course, who are of the same age and demographic.

It’s hard to imagine young people abandoning Facebook and Twitter because there are alternatives. There’s this FEAR OF MISSING OUT #FOMO, which still pervades their thinking.

On the other hand, Facebook and Twitter represent permanence on the Internet. The Snapchats of this world represent platforms that offer respite from regret of posting a mistake or a bad joke, which we sometimes, we do commit.

But isn’t it that the Internet has a long-term memory of the world. It’s our modern record of human history, sliced thinly into bits and bytes.

#maringPH: Floods paralyzed Metro Manila


Social media and parenting

Take your kids to work day - "I wonder what happens if I push this red button?"

I stumbled upon this story titled “9 Ways to Punish Your Children Using Facebook” on Mashable.

I know. They’re probably trying to be funny. But as I was reading the article, offering negative reinforcement may have long-term consequences on children, once you start messing around with the Facebook profiles. Foremost is them “unfriending” you from their network.

So before you start heading down that tunnel of despair, think about it: Do you really need to go social on them? You might go loco.

Thus, I’m writing my own list on how to deal with your kids on social media–and still get some respect and trust.

1. Don’t embarrass them on social networks. They’re kids. They’re very conscious of their “social” status most of the time. I know this because I’ve made my own mistakes (Ask my daughter).

2. Be friends but don’t cyber-stalk them. We were once kids. You wouldn’t want your dad joining a group that is for kids only. Also, you don’t want them butting in in conversations, right?

3. Share their interests. But don’t overdo it.  At some point, you cannot pretend to know everything about your kids. Again, if they’re talking gibberish (it’s a code, parents!), it’s actually a message that says, “Stay out of it.” They want their privacy and so let them enjoy their alien-inspired talk with some cryptic codes sprinkled on top of it.

4. Educate them about social media. Parents take time to tell them about the dangers of over-sharing. They won’t understand it that it’s wrong because they’re born with it. Just keep them message simple: What would I want to share that I won’t be embarrass to know 1o to 20 years later?

5. Flag bad behavior, or misleading, cryptic postings. Social networks often lack context. You see a quote, you like it. Then, you start preaching it. If they’re re-posting damaging comments, or “trolling” on friends, remind them that what they write or posts on social networks are always in the public domain. There’s no such thing as “private” in social networks. If you want to keep it private, tell them to get off the Internet.

6. Play social games with them. Who wouldn’t love a dad who takes them on a social game of Sim City. This I learned from a friend. It builds trust.

7. Tell them to go out and meet people. Make friends offline. Make more friends in real gatherings. Help them socialize. It’s better to have more friends outside of your social networks, right? Ask Sheldon.

Pinterest: Show don’t tell

You might be in it. But if you’re not, this growing social network that goes by the saying, “Show, don’t tell,” is an interesting social experiment that is taking the Americans by storm. Will this be the next “Facebook?” Perhaps not. But as we hit a plateau in the web 2.0 (we’re still at that stage?!), we will see more social networks breaking into smaller communities.

Why?

Human nature dictates that we will soon stick with people who have similar interests. Also, there’s more discussion if there are only a few of you. In Path, the mobile app that is also attracting a smaller crowd (including me), the “smallness” aspect of it attracts me a lot because I can only comprehend so much now. There’s too much noise (and spam).

I’m new to Pinterest and have not been actively “pinning” my interest just yet. I am still a tourist. But by the looks of it, this service seems designed for women. Just look at the “most popular” section, it’s heavy on women’s interest. And oh, did I say that you need to be invited to be in Pinterest?

So, yeah, at this point, I still need to figure out what would make me pin more.

More on this as I dive into another social network.

Why I love Zite and my daily news habit

Last year, my daily news habit involved turning on the television, then while that’s on, I grabbed my Blackberry and I started wading through Twitter.

Today, a lot has changed thanks to Apple and an app called Zite.

This morning, I woke up with tons of thoughts in my head (what’s keeping me awake these days is another topic altogether). So what do you do when you’re up early? Exercise? Nah, perhaps not this time. Sleep more! Yes, I can do that. But as thoughts started percolating into ideas–I found myself grabbing my iPhone 4s. I tapped (we no longer click with a mouse these days too!) my News app folder, and fired off Zite.

To those unfamiliar with this mobile app (and I’ve had this argument before that apps will increasingly become the next good thing that happened to mobile), Zite is a mobile app aggregator, which wades through the web and “curates” content for you, based on categories or topics you’ve chosen. In short, this is now my one-stop for news that I want, and need. As one journo told me in a conversation, it’s my daily dose of news.

There’s also the Flipboard designed for the iPad.

As you can see, our daily news habits are changing with technology. I was born in an analog world. I always tell my class that they’re lucky to be in an era where information is abundant–in fact, there’s too much information that we now need to find the best from all the grime.

Enter “Social curation” or social content and apps like Flipboard and Zite. These developments are riding on the idea that our info-overloaded society needs help in identifying content that we can share, save, tweet, copy, and e-mail to friends and peers. Today, Facebook serves this purpose somehow, but in my case, this social network is that, a distribution network + an online community that serves a different purpose.

We are turning to “smaller” social networks and even mobile apps to help us make sense of the world. This is both a good and bad thing. This talk from Ted Talks, for one, warns of a world where “filter bubbles” will threaten discovery of information that is also as important as the one we’re being served in a digital platter.

But back to the point. There’s debate now on whether journalism in an online world should serve the purpose of a bigger mass (it’s massive than TV or radio) or should focus on churning quality stories. It’s age-old rule of  “less is more,” online publishers should be focusing more on churning out quality stories instead of producing commodity news.

In an ideal world, 100 blogs will translate to more page views than one single, and well-researched report. For an online publisher that thrives on pushing numbers up and attracting audience, that’s good news. But in reality, 100 blogs don’t necessarily translate to more page views or even more readers. How much stories do you think visitors to your website read?

Another question, do you think they read everything on your site? Answer: no. They scan and pick what they want, then move on. If you can catch their attention in 6 seconds, then you’re making a lot progress. So it’s such a tricky world. And because the web is hyperlinked, it’s easy to jump from one page to another–so if there’s any good gauge of online engagement, it is time-spent and PV/UU, roughly translated as “how many pages do you view as a reader.”

To understand how news websites are evolving these days based on the evolving habits of readers, you can start with your own as anecdotal evidence. It’s clear, the next battlefield –and it has been for sometime now–is the mobile space. How are news organizations responding to apps like Zite and Flipboard?

Of course, all these are moot if you really care about your readers. As journalists, we’re all molded with a higher calling– to deliver the truth and worldview that machines and algorithms cannot do. Yes, we do need to make sense of the world with technology. But we also need people, trained ones, to help you understand the world. These people are hard to find. They don’t grow on trees! They’re not out there for the picking. The skills that we need are changing, that we ourselves need to upgrade fast to keep up.

To end, I found this interesting but anonymous quote:

Journalism is an art, not science. Sure, a machine or an algorithm can be coded to do things in a certain way, but unless it has some true intelligence and a taste for artistic senses, it always possess only the qualities of a MACHINE. Which are pretty much redundant. It’s not the 99% of the time of recycled material that matters. It’s that 1% of innovation sparks that come and totally flip a story around. Unless machines think like people, they will always be machines. And people will always have the POTENTIAL of turning out better output.