This week, Craig Leach’s media class at Somerville High broke into four groups to discuss their use of social media. In this class, Facebook reigns supreme. MySpace is losing out. YouTube is very big. Twitter hasn’t caught on except for a few. Even Facebook seems on the decline—not as exciting as when it first took off, when some kids say they spent hours designing and redesigning their pages. Those who do spend hours a day on social media say they do it more out of boredom than addiction.
Mostly, social media are a way to keep up with friends. In one group, a student said her aunt wrote on her Facebook wall that she might need to “get out my red pencil” to correct her English—embarrassing her in front of all her friends. The kids agreed they don’t want grown-up relatives talking to them on Facebook—any more than kids a generation ago wanted their parents picking up the extension phone in the middle of a teen-to-teen heart-to-heart.
Another group compared their use of social media to television, radio, and newspapers. The conventional media don’t interest most of them very much. Exception: the Globe’s sports section. (These kids said they get all their news from television, by the way.)
A third group was the only one into Twitter, which they use to keep up with celebrities, not so much to interact with friends.
The fourth group compared their use of social media with the way adults use them. Adults, they imagine, are all about business. For teens, social websites are a place to hang out with friends and “an excuse for not doing chores.” Sounds very grown-up to me!