Fifteen minutes trapped in a car with my two teenage daughters made it clear there were some differences between us. I expected the girls would be wired into different social media networks than I am—we’re from different generations, after all.
But what surprised me was that the girls (ages 12 and 14) spend their time on different social media networks from each other. They’re both part of the generation that’s being called Generation Z (or, alternately, iGen or the Post-Millennials). They both attend the same school. But they don’t share a social circle, and that appears to make all the difference.
Know what else surprised me? The reason your teen chooses one social media outlet over another might be your fault (along with absolutely everything else that’s your fault, like the fact they can’t find matching socks…).
David Ebersman, the former chief financial officer for Facebook, argued... Facebook was no longer the hip hangout spot on the Internet for teenagers [because] it’s hard to look cool when you’re hanging out with Mom and Dad.
That’s right. It’s your fault. And now, as punishment, you have to figure out how to tweet and how to Snapchat if you want to know what your kids are up to online. (Or, alternately, you could check out our RAKKOON social media monitoring service… that’s good, too.)
Eric Lang—the 16-year-old brother of Nico Lang, who wrote the article quoted above—says he thinks teens are switching to Twitter because not so many parents use it. That’s because, he says, adults are past the point where they feel compelled to try new things. They’d rather stay inside their comfort zones—they’re done exploring. They’re stuck on Facebook. So teens have found new places to hang out. Like After School.
Clearly this is a challenge for us as parents. It's also one of the key problems we became aware of as we began developing RAKKOON.
No one we know has the time (or the energy) to invest keeping up with teens’ ever-changing roster of social media platforms. And the latest round of research and polls suggest that’s exactly what’s happening—as soon as parents figure out a new app and start engaging with it, teens flee to the next new thing. It’s a social media arms race, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.
So we're designing RAKKOON to do some of the work for you. We’ll keep tabs on which social media sites teens are spending their time on, and add those to our roster of monitored apps as they become popular.
We’ll also keep blogging about the latest teen trends and newest social media platforms here, so you can read more about it if you’re interested.
Then, instead of spending time learning how to tweet, you can spend that time doing something you really want to do. Or finding your teen a pair of matching socks. It’s up to you.
As part of the RAKKOON team, I still have to learn to tweet (you know, to spare the rest of you the inanity), so if you’re brave enough to join me, you can follow me @rakkoonrobin—after you read this awesome explanation of Twitter, dumbed down for parents.