Trendsetting Teens?

A few weeks ago on my way to work, again listening to NPR, I heard a report on how teenagers are moving en masse from MySpace to Facebook. This isn’t an entirely surprising trend, but towards the end of the piece, they had a teenager remarking on how he thought it was just a fad, and looking to the future they didn’t think twitter would be the next fad because it is just for old people. This got me thinking though because it wasn’t long ago that Facebook was for old people as well…

When I was in high school, no one used the internet but geeks. In fact, when it came to the internet in a lot of ways I was abnormally ahead of the curve. But when the teenager crowd was ignoring the internet, the thirty year olds were well versed in its ways. In fact, towards my senior year the new big thing that was just becoming popular among the older crowd was Instant Messaging, in particular ICQ. I was on it with the rest of the older people of the internet while the teens were just beginning to look at the internet, if even that.

A few years later, my now best friend met me on ICQ. She is a good four years younger than me and as it turned out the ICQ bug had finally caught up to teenagers and it was the main way that teens were using the internet at the time. Meanwhile many from the older crowd had caught onto a new website that was pioneering the web at the time, Myspace. Teenagers of course hadn’t caught on yet, but it didn’t take them long to jump on that bandwagon as well.

Sooner than you know, the “elderly” of the internet had moved onto Facebook. During my times of college, it was a well known fact that when a potential employee applied at a new job, the employer would do their homework and check the web, but the site that they would check out these new people wasn’t myspace, it was Facebook. Why? Because if you wanted to be a serious professional, you had a facebook page to suit.

Now it seems right that while the grown ups have moved on to Twitter that the teens have moved into Facebook as they leave. However, it seems completely off to me that the teens wouldn’t move on to Twitter at some point. Twitter being completely geared around the cell phone and text messaging seems to go hand in hand with the culture of modern teen life. It is actually kind of odd that it is adults who have found twitter, this actually seems to be a trend that you’d think was made for teenagers. But it isn’t.

I think this is an interesting thought though. In so many ways, it is the teens who have always dictated fashion, style, music, and yes even technology of the country. But in the internet, I don’t see it. It is reversed for some reason. Maybe it is because those who embrace this technology as children and young adults are branded as “geeks” or “nerds.” As adults, these same people are often thought of successful and it is this difference that creates the model for the internet trends and explains why it is that teens remain behind of the curve.

I don’t know whether the next trend for teens is going to be Twitter or not for sure. I find it likely that it will be, but who can say for certain. I think the only competition for it is Google Wave, but I have a feeling that like previous internet fads, Wave will find itself a lot of 20-40 year olds all the while teenagers will find the beauty that we currently know is Twitter. It seems likely that teens won’t understand Wave until the older people of the web have grown tired of it and moved on.

One Reply to “Trendsetting Teens?”

  1. I agree that the internet is being pioneered by the twenty & thirtysomethings. I think that’s generally the leading group when it comes to technology. You can see that trend in personal computers, mobile phones, and audio formats too.

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