In the social media world, each generation and age group favors a certain platform, and although they may have favorites, most teens over Facebook’s 13-year-old age limit have profiles on the five major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. As a teenager, the way I use social media is often very different from how my parents or even my younger siblings use each of the platforms. Each one has a slightly different purpose and personality. Here are the most common teenage uses of the five major platforms.
In my experience, Twitter is the most-used platform by the teens of Santa Clarita; I use Twitter almost every day and for a variety of reasons. Some people use it to follow news or celebrities, while others post statuses. Each person’s news feed is personalized to things they follow and want to see, which can vary from the PeaceCorps to my friends’ posts on my own account. It’s a way of wading through all the news and trends we hear about every day to only see what you’re interested in.
Snapchat is a very popular platform for teens, second only to the ever-popular Twitter. Like a visual text message, Snapchat allows users to send photos, which are usually only available for a few seconds after opening them, to other users. It is a way for us to stay connected with each other, like texting, but we get to physically see what the other person is doing instead of reading about it. You can send your picture to a specific friend or post it to “My Story,” which means all of your friends can see the picture or video.
Like a news feed of only photos and captions, Instagram is a visual platform that teens use for artistic expression. With many ways to alter and change photos, Instagram allows users to apply different “filters” to photos, as well as to brighten and edit them. Usually teens build pages that focus on being aesthetically pleasing or sharing personal photos and images. Some will build the entire page with the same filter or only post artsy photos, which gives Instagram a different purpose and tone. It is a way for us to show our artistic side through posting nature or food pictures rather than selfies, though some people do that, too.
Pinterest, like a virtual pinboard for all areas of your life, is mainly used by teens to find cute phone backgrounds or outfit ideas. You can collect different links, images and ideas and sort them into various boards. My boards are entitled: Music, Pretty, Equality, Funny, Jewelry, Tats, and Clothes. Everyone finds different purposes for Pinterest, such as finding fashion inspiration or collecting recipes.
For me and many other teens, Facebook is a way to keep our families updated on our lives. I post pictures about once a month to share major events with the relatives I don’t see often. I do, however, check my news feed to see what’s going on in other peoples’ lives, so it’s a two-way street. If I do post a status, it is to promote an event or organization I am involved with or to wish someone a happy birthday.