About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting into the head of a teenager on facebook

When my daughter turned 14, I decided to set up a facebook account for her---with some restrictions. First, I used my email address so I knew what was going on in her account. After a week in which my email was loaded with fzcebook updates, I changed the security settings (as per my son's directions) and only received updates on new friends and friend requests, photos tagged with her name, and allowing only friends to see her facebook.

Over the last month, I have been able to monitor how she uses facebook, who she invites as her friends, and how she communicates with her friends over facebook. Here are some of the insights I have gathered:

1) She uses facebook to share photos. This is a very important social tool as she has been able to show friends from one venue who her friends are and what they are doing from another venue (i.e. camp photos, photos from graduation, hang-out photos, etc...).

2) She uses truncated speech, but it took some time to learn the texting norms. There is always the assumption that the younger generation knows these abbreviations almost by default. However, many of her friends are newbies to facebook and they are even coming up with their own form of shorthand.

3) She told me yesterday that she finds facebook a great tool to organize events (its original purpose). These might include play auditions, parties, public meetings (i.e. all meeting to go bowling, play miniature golf, go to the movies or a play).

4) A surprising aspect of facebook has been seeing the connections that those from one venue have with others in other venues. For example, she found that the exchange student who was staying with her second cousin (we have a large, close extended family) was friends with a member of the cast where she had been working. They went to different schools and lived in different towns. So how did they know each other? It ended up they were friends though their church. There have been similar connections for both my son and daughter through what would appear to be totally unconnected lives. As a result, both my kids have been able to learn more about their friends outside of the venues that they knew their friends.

5) The amount of information the comes up on facebook can be overwhelming and often information is lost if my kids don't check their facebooks daily. When there are 70-100 friends in your network, the means a lot of messages.

6) Friends tend to post in spurts. There are many that don't post for weeks, then suddenly have a number of posts (to walls, comments to friends, quizzes). One of the most common posts are the quizzes. As this is the summer, it seems that this is a way to while away the time.

7) Teenagers are (or at least proport to be) bored throughout the summer. I think the most common status I have read this summer is "I'm sooooooo borrrrrrrrred." The second has been, "my summer reading is soooooooo boringggggggggggggggggg."


paul c said...

I often think if teenagers need the time in summer to just veg and be mindless - enjoy camping, swimming, family trips... Then in September they will be primed like us to carry on with a productive life.

I am sure entrepreneurs think about ways to engage teens. Parents hopefully serve to counter that threat with productive planning of their own for their teens. Too bad that some don't rise to the challenge.

V Yonkers said...

I myself need to keep my kids busy because otherwise they drive me crazy with their bickering and whining! Teens seem to be worse than toddlers for that.

I have always thought, however, that the required readings are counter productive as the summer is the one time you could encourage life long reading habits. However, by requiring reading that for the most part interests 40 year old librarians rather than letting teens choose their own reading, teens are bound to be bored by the required reading.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Virginia!

I use Facebook entirely for communicating with family. It's a network of sorts, but not in the common sense.

My kids use it too. A lot of their time is spent on online chat. I find Facebook online chat is good and responsive with broadband but often it serves only to prompt a session using webcams through Skype.

Catchya later

V Yonkers said...

I'm noticing a difference in how teens and older adults use facebook. I see older adults using it as a way to "keep in touch" and catch up on family and close friend news.

Teens on the other hand, seem to use it more as a source of information and a way to create their own network of friends. In addition, I think there is a certain level of voyeurism (not the creepy sort, as my kids would say) in that they can be "in" on the conversations. I don't think this is as important to adults.