Facebook, Youtube, Twitter
Social media has come a long way since it started. In the beginning a limited number of tech savvy people connected to the Bulletin Billboard System (BBS) via a modem connected to the telephone line. Although very simple and slow, this text-only technology gained popularity during the 80's and 90's.
Then came the internet revolution and the launch of social networking sites like Friendster that laid the way for the super sites that are used today. Social media networking was no longer just for a small group of techie nerds.
Myspace launched in 2003 and was an instant hit with teenagers. The site tempted them with music, music video's and other features that were considerably cooler than the other platforms around at the time. It was Facebook going public in 2006 that really changed things though.
In today's world children have mobile phones, computers, ipads and other electronic devices. By the time they hit teenage years they have at least a profile on Facebook (if not also on other sites) which they regularly use for communicating with their friends.
For many teenagers not having access to their social network would be a nightmare. Social media is their everything. If for any reason it gets taken away from them you'll hear them say things like "How am I going to make friends now?"
Social media is also desensitizing teenagers to the full range of their emotions. As they can so easily delete people if they have a disagreement or differing opinion they never have to face the argument or deal with the person. It's far easier to click delete than it is to actually tell them to their face how they feel.
They have also become bolder in what they are willing to say online. In their virtual world they allow themselves to say things they would think twice about saying if they had people physically in front of them.
Teenagers are spending more time sat around at their computers and less time out socializing face to face in the real world. We can only hope that the increasing mobile nature of social media and increasing emphasis on connecting the online and offline worlds will help create a better balance.
Social media and teens is a growing topic with lots of research taking place.