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What Social Networks/Apps Are Trending WIth BC Youth (2013)


Last year, I published an article on our blog called, “What Social Networks and Apps Are Trending with BC Youth” that can be located here: http://thedigitalsheepdog.ca/what-social-networks-and-apps-are-trending-with-b-c-youth/

In that article, I stated in the last paragraph, “What’s trending today when it comes to social networks and communication apps may not be trending tomorrow. Youth are always in search of the next NEW social network or app. I have no doubt that in six months, the above noted numbers will change given the fluidity of digital media and our youth.”

Recently, PEW research also published some excellent 2012 data on this topic that can be located here: http://www.pewinternet.org/Press-Releases/2013/Teens-Social-Media-and-Privacy.aspx

After reading the above noted PEW research, I was impressed with the depth of this study, but at the same time, also perplexed by some of their findings given that I was not seeing some of their results here in British Columbia. One such result was the fact that PEW reported out that a significant number of youth in their study were becoming tired of Facebook. This is not something that I have experienced in my teachings of over 114,000 students here in BC, or even reflected in the newest stats that I have collected.

Now I must admit that my research and stats are in no way as academically sound as PEW’s research methodology. BUT, I do believe it provides an empirically acceptable snapshot of what youth here in BC are doing online.

Like the PEW study, I had over 800 students between grades 6 to 12 throughout British Columbia reply to my questionnaire, and here’s what they reported back:

Top Social Networks being used by Jr/Sr high school BC teens in order:

#1 Facebook

#2 Youtube

#3 Instagram

#4 Twitter

#5 Tumblr

#6 Skype

#7 Google+

Other sites that were noted with less frequency included Deviant Art, Wanleo, Reddit, Sound Cloud, FourSquare, and Myspace.

Of interest to me was the fact that last year, Twitter was #3, and Instagram that placed #5 last year has now been bumped down by Twitter. Also of interest, Google+ appears to be starting to trend with teens, given that it ranks #7 this year, and was nowhere to be found on the list last year.

Of the above-noted social networks, which is your favorite to frequent most often?

#1 Facebook 55%

#2 Youtube 13%

#3 Tumblr 10%

#4 Instagram 7%

#5 Twitter 5%

#6 Google+ 2%

Unlike what was reported in the PEW research, the majority of BC youth do not appear to be growing tired of Facebook, but rather they are using it in different ways. Anecdotally, now that Facebook is becoming more mobile friendly, I am seeing teens integrating other social networking apps into Facebook such as Ask.fm and Instagram as well as a lot of others. Facebook is becoming more of an aggregate to launch to other services than just a stand-alone social network. It has also become apparent that on average, our teens are active on at least 3-4 social networks, with Facebook still being number one for most.

How many of you are using the following social networking apps?

  • Snapchat 69%

  • Ask.fm 28%

  • Meetme 11%

  • Line 3%

  • Other 4%

  • None 10%

Of interest to me is the app, ‘Meetme,” which is a Social Mobile Location app (SMLA), which are starting to be seen as a trend with teens. These Social Mobile Location apps may possess both privacy and safety concerns that many teens may not fully understand.

What is the primary way you are accessing your social networks?

#1 Smartphones 46%

#2 Laptop Computer 31%

#3 iPad, iPod, gaming, or other tablet device 14%

#4 Home Computer 9%

As has been reported elsewhere, there is no doubt that mobile is the number one way that teen are now accessing social networks. Teens are moving away from laptops and home computers, and using their Smartphones and other mobile devices to access both the internet and social networks.

What kind of Smartphone do you use?

#1: Android 35%

#2: iPhone 35%

#3: Blackberry 4%

#4 Windows Phone 2%

#5 No Phone 11%

Last year, the iPhone was trending with teens in this province, BUT Android has now gathered market share and it is presently running neck and neck with iPhone.

What is your favorite texting app?

#1 Phone-based text 61% with iMessage being #1

#2 Kik 13%

#3 Snapchat 12%

#4 Text+ 9%

#5 Facebook Messaging 5%

Although we hear a lot about texting apps, the majority of texting is being done with the phone’s native texting software.

Of great interest to me were some of the comments that were provided to me by teens to help me understand the “why” of some of the above noted information.

Here are some comments from the students:

“Well Instagram is a great place to post ‘selfies’ and Twitter is a good place to vent without people calling you names.”

“I spend most time on Instagram and Facebook, but sometimes Twitter.”

“Instagram is a good place to share individual photos, instead of albums, and Twitter is good for knowing what like famous people are up to per se. As well as Twitter is pretty much the same as Facebook except everything is a status, even if you’re talking to someone individually.”

“Everyone posts what’s really going on in their lives on Tumblr… It’s like a diary, I go on Tumblr most often, then Facebook, and I barely ever use my Instagram or Twitter.”

“Twitter is better for following celebrities.”

“Facebook, I find, is mainly for people who want to get pictures out and gossip about things without mentioning names, Twitter for spamming celebrities and keeping up to date with them. Instagram for a photo diary sort of thing, ya know, posting photos of what’s going on in their day-to-day lives, and Tumblr for venting, fandoms, music, and internet friends.”

“Twitter is more something I use on my phone. I use Tumblr for funny pictures or to escape from people and write about myself. Facebook, I spend the most time on because it’s my main contact with friends.”

“To me, you have more control over what you want on Twitter based on who you follow ie, celebs, dancers, sports stars, friends, etc. and Facebook is kind of messy with all the random ads and memes everywhere it’s kind of annoying sometimes. I really only use Facebook to contact people, whereas on Twitter, I’m more active, especially since I’m on my phone most of the time and I have my phone on me usually all the time it makes tweeting and reading tweets easier. And I find more people complaining on Facebook compared to Twitter.”

“I use Facebook & Instagram on a daily basis whereas Twitter & Tumblr are just checked in on every so often.”

“Definitely spreading out between networks. I think that each network someone joins shows a part of who they are or their opinions on things because usually with each new network they join, the less friends in real life they have which opens up the doors to express themselves without being judged as hard as they would be when connected with people from their schools and can find other people who share the same thoughts as them, which is pretty neat. Hands down, I’d choose most networks over Facebook.”

“I primarily only post something on Facebook if it seems like big news that people would pay attention to and care about, I go on Twitter to vent and let strangers/not strangers know about the little things and big things going on and to ask for opinions, Instagram is like the Twitter of pictures”

“I’ve definitely moved on from Facebook... I think I use Twitter the most but Instagram is really close behind. I really agree with the comment Grace first made, “you can really post whatever you want on twitter/instagram (I love Tumblr too!)” Facebook is extremely judgmental these days.”

“I use Facebook basically only for talking to certain people because it is more convenient than text as I do not have a Smartphone. I find Facebook to start a lot of drama whereas on Tumblr and Twitter I don’t follow people I actually know in real life so it’s just drama free and fun. It’s fun meeting people with the same interests as you without having to deal with BS.”

“Well, Instagram accounts typically target strangers as your followers (unless you choose otherwise), therefore allowing lack in judgment from your peers and so called “anonymous” judging from strangers, if that at all.”

If there is one constant in the online world as it relates to tweens and teens, its CHANGE. What is true today may not be true next year or even tomorrow. I can’t wait to see what happens next year!

Digital Food For Thought

Darren Laur

AKA #thewhitehatter


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