Teens are still using the top social media sites to connect and interact with their world.
Of course, for the most part, their “world” remains the self-absorbed place parents and older generations know it to be. Sure, teens are trying to figure out who they are and develop their own identities, but they’re doing so on Instagram and Facebook.
Thanks to a new study by the Pew Research Center, at least we now know teens are still living in a world we recognize, and on social media platforms we know how to use.
In contrast to previous stories of teens abandoning sites such as Facebook and Twitter for new, lesser-known social media platforms, the new Pew report suggests Facebook reigns supreme among teens, followed by Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.
According to the report, “Facebook remains the most used social media site among American teens ages 13 to 17 with 71% of all teens using the site, even as half of teens use Instagram and four-in-ten use Snapchat.”
According to the study, only 11 percent of teens with smart phones report using lesser-known anonymous sharing apps (e.g., Whisper, Ask.FM).
It should surprise no one that 92 percent of teens reported going online daily, and that another 24 percent said they are “constantly online.”
For some parents, however, it’s that nearly 1-in-4 teens who say they’re “constantly online” that is most disconcerting.
Constantly connecting online is frightening to some who see the head-down-looking-at-screen-ignoring-the-world-around-me as the biggest detriment to the post-Millennial generation (side note: No one has really named this generation yet. I vote for iGeneration. Selfie Generation, anyone?).
Pew didn’t provide a definition for being “constantly online,” although one can certainly imagine what that means.
I asked some of my Facebook friends to provide their own definitions.
“People, not just teens, are using a variety of devices and are tethered to social media and email,” said Deb Cunningham, an instructor at Youngstown State University. “Checking for updates is a habit for many, myself included. Seldom do we spend time sitting quietly, observing our surroundings. If there’s a second when our attention isn’t occupied, we fill that time by checking our devices.”
Jimmy Sanderson, a professor at Clemson University and social media researcher, agreed with Cunningham’s definition. “Being constantly online means going on so much you can’t count how many times you do,” he said.
Others suggested a better term might be “constantly connected.” But regardless of the terminology or definitions, we know it when we see it — or feel it, in our necks (my wife calls this “text neck”), thumbs, wrists and eyes.
Encouraging teens and others around us to use tech in moderation — to unplug once in a while — might help us develop deeper connections to the world around us, and save us a few trips to the chiropractor or eye doctor.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, April 19, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
“I don’t think social media is helpful to any human being on the planet,” said Tom Izzo, head coach of Michigan State’s men’s basketball team. Izzo said this in response to a question about whether or not social media was helpful or harmful to his players.
This isn’t the first time Izzo voiced his contempt for social media. And he’s not the first coach to do so.
University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino once said, “I think it’s the great class of underachievers who live … with social media.”
Not a ringing endorsement for using social media. But consider this: Neither Izzo nor Pitino uses social media.
And Izzo is convinced that he can manage what his players do on social media. “I never worry about what my players tweet, never. I can control some of that,” Izzo said.
This makes him either the most naive head coach in college sports or the most uninformed.
In contrast, John Calipari, head coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, is a fan of social media. His Twitter account, @UKCoachCalipari, has more than 1.35 million followers, and his tweets tend to be positive, personal messages.
For example, after his team set a record with a 38-0 start to the season only to lose in the semfinals, Calipari tweeted:
That post was retweeted more than 2,700 times and favorited more than 4,600 times. Apparently, a few thousand people found Calipari’s social media message helpful, maybe even inspirational.
The truth is, Izzo and coaches like him are setting up their players for failure by denying them and their fans an ability to connect on social media. The players, some who will go on to professional careers in the NBA or leagues in other countries, are being robbed of an opportunity to establish and manage their online personal brands.
Even the ones who don’t become professional athletes (most of them won’t) are being deprived of the joy of connecting with others — family, friends, fans.
This isn’t to suggest all coaches should give carte blanche access to all social media for all players. Some guidance and monitoring is needed. Izzo and other coaches are right to be concerned about those who would use social media to post insensitive, racist and sexist comments about players and coaches (and how players react to those posts).
However, some companies now offer services to assist coaches with training their student-athletes about how to use social media competently and responsibly.
Fieldhouse Media, for example, helps train student-athletes to use social media effectively. The goal is to help coaches and players understand the risks and rewards of social media use, and how to avoid those who mean to do them harm.
The tools are there for Izzo and others to help their players prepare for life in social media after college sports. Now they just have to use them.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, April 12, 2015 "Connection" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
Our third child is in preschool this year. Every day we’re presented with a stack of new masterpieces – art and craft projects from the day.
Our older kids know the routine. Bring your work home, let Mom and Dad see it and tell you how wonderful it is, but most of these projects will end up in the trash.
Their work is not “trash,” of course, but when your kids are bringing home the equivalent of the entire collection of the Butler Museum of American Art, it’s hard to know where to put it all.
Enter my new favorite app: Artkive. Like some of you, I was a parent wracked with guilt every time I closed the garbage-can lid on their newest creations. With Artkive, I simply lay out the artwork on our dining room table, take a snapshot, tag it with some information and store it in the Artkive cloud.
If you have several Pablo Picassos in your family, simply open the app “Account” section, click “Manage Children,” and add more kids.
The Artkive app is not free ($4.99 in Google Play or iTunes), and there’s a charge for additional services. This app is absolutely worth the investment.
Tagging the artwork with identifying information is an important feature in Artkive. You become the family’s museum curator. Once an artwork is captured and tagged, Artkive places a “plaque” at the bottom of each image with the information you provide: which kid, what grade they’re in, the date created, a title (just like a real art gallery).
Truth be told, the title of the artwork is often the toughest part for me. I’m never sure if I’m looking at a horse, an airplane or a new Pokemon.
Of course, you could just use the camera on your phone or other mobile device, but then you run the risk of mixing their artwork in with the sea pictures you’ll never use, and probably delete. Only a handful of my images make it on to Facebook and Twitter. But they certainly never make it into a photo album.
Artkive can help with that, too. You can create scrapbooks and albums of their best work, or use the collections to torture your children when they’re teenagers. My plan is to pull out the scrapbooks when we meet new boyfriends and girlfriends.
Checkout some the sample books at www.artkiveapp.com.
Also, sharing their art with family and friends on social media takes only a few clicks.
Artkive offers a “concierge” service, starting at $149 or 50 pieces of art. Send Artkive your kid’s artwork and their team will professionally capture each piece and upload them to the cloud, create an e-book for you to review and share, and send you an 8.5 x 11 hardcover album.
Unlike other apps, Artkive has a very helpful customer service center at email@example.com. And if you’re really lost, call their toll-free help line at 877-673-6043.
~ A version of this post appeared in the April 5, 2015 "Connected" section of The Vindicator newspaper.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.