This week, I gave a fun new presentation entitled “Managing the Madness: Understanding the New World of Social Media” at a school where I am consulting for the 2013-14 school year (for more information on school consulting, see here).
When I consult with schools, I often have students take a social media survey and then design my work around the results. After all, the apps that are popular at one school may not be as popular at another – and in some schools, it varies dramatically by grade level.
At this school, we found that Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, Ask.fm and Vine to be the most oft-used apps. Other schools had more students using Yik Yak and Twitter (barely any of these students were regularly on Facebook or Twitter). I’ve found use varies geographically as well as by age group, though the overarching trend is that students are now focusing on interactions that seem to be ephemeral and anonymous – both which don’t really exist on the internet. This illusion of anonymity has students sharing online more openly and deeply, which is a concern, especially since mounting evidence concludes that nothing is really that anonymous on the everyday Internet (deep web, maybe, but we’re not watching House of Cards here – I would hopefully venture very few typical seventh grade girls are delving into the deep internet).
Last week, Snapchat admitted that the “snaps,” or photos and messages sent at an astounding rate of 400 million per day, don’t ever really disappear. Not that much of a revelation for most adults with common sense, but teens brains haven’t fully formed yet. Remember that. And then, just this week, it was admitted that, under supeona, yes, Whisper and Secret will rat you out without any issue – so anyone wanting to go on an “anonymous” message board and act as a whistler-blower beware: you are not as anonymous as you think on the Internet.
Which brings me back to the social media presentation, which isn’t meant to scare parents and educators but rather to build awareness, foster communication, and encourage collaboration among parents, educators and students. I will often mention several apps more than half of students are using with regularity – and yet none of the parents in the audience have even heard of, much less downloaded. We’re all in this together, and we do need to help our youngest generation figure out a way of being online and IRL (in real life) that makes them feel comfortable and safe with the never-ending plethora of information.
Note: If your school is interested in having me come present to parents, educators, and/or students, feel free to contact us. We generally book out 6-12 months in advance.