How Teens Communicate Online

By Liam Hubbert

Social media is the largest form of online interaction that currently exists. Facebook has over one billion monthly active users, around 60% of which are mobile users. Instagram puts up similar numbers. These platforms encourage social discourse in their own specific way. Instagram’s main focus is on images. You cannot post something without it being in image form. Facebook is far more broad, allowing text posts, image posts, audio, video, quotes, and more. Each platform seems to attract different types of people, but my question is how does each platform affect how we interact on them?

To answer this question I took a poll asking what type of social media someone uses. They were allowed to list more than one. I asked ten people and these were my results:

WhatsApp – 3

Instagram – 9

Facebook – 2

Snapchat – 6

Discord – 4

We can see a clear disparity when it comes to social media. Instagram clearly is the most popular among students. Statistics gathered by Omnicore Agency show that 72% of teens use Instagram, and 68% of users are female. From this data, we can make a few assumptions about how we as a student body interact online.

Why would students prefer Instagram and Snapchat over other methods of communication? Both platforms base themselves around images, but what does this say? Is our generation one of the aspiring photographers? Perhaps, but I don’t think so. I believe it has more to do with the Lemming migration theory. Lemmings are small rodents that, due to their biological urges, migrate in packs, often blind. If one of them begins to lead the pack somewhere, the rest will follow simply due to wanting to stick with the group. Similarly, if one person starts using a new trendy social media, the pack follows.

In terms of features, not much separates Instagram from Snapchat or either of these two from Facebook, so why does one seem to lead the pack in terms of usage by teens, while the other two lag behind significantly? Because it was already popular. If all of your friends are using social media, why wouldn’t you want to join it? That is why I believe most students tend to prefer certain social media services over others.

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