Texting, music, apps and social connectedness. Thoughts on teens and Social Media Revolution.

October 18, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Digital Era, Social Computing 

Over the weekend I have been dipping into various online feeds and giving some thought to where we are going within education, e-learning and the digital environment generally. If you want to check out the posts I have been writing you can find them here:

1. Cool websites for education- YT Time Machien. History research tool?

2. The Educational landscape of the 21st Century. Moving towards a new paradign in learning.

3. The origins of digital natives and e-learning. Internet arrives in 1993.

I have also been reflecting on various sources of information coming into my twitter feed. Some thoughts started to come together about the  teenagers we teach, their digital consumption and use and their social interaction. The first thing that struck me was a tweet from @ruskin147 on the use of texts by teens:

The article is here and the headline speaks for itself. Teachers of teens will know how important a part of their life texting is but a figure of 3,339 for 13-17 year olds with girls on average texting over 4,000 times is staggering. What surprises me more is the rising trend when this age group who are self confessed as living on Facebook. It appears that this move over the last 3 years has not dulled their appetite for text messaging with an 8% increase year on year.

At the same time I was struck by the video below, however contrived the setup may have been, which continues to show the importance of music within teen culture. This when combined with the growth of smart phones and the rise of apps and data usage (up from 14mb to 62mb per month amongst 13-17 year olds) shows how much of a digital society they are increasingly living in.

At the same time as all this interaction, immersion and interconnectedness one study which was highlighted in the Boston Globe shows a significant decline in empathetic skills amongst teenagers. Whilst these digital natives may be growing a vast social network and are increasingly willing to volunteer it is possible that their ability to care for others is declining. Could it be that our online worlds are leading to a decline in real and genuine relationship skills amongst our teenage generation? As an anecdote, when I first started teaching almost every teenager was on MSN messenger in the UK. I remember the first time I asked a teenager why she liked spending so much time chatting online instead of in person she said ‘it allows me to be more blunt and honest with my friends and tell them what I really feel’. I am sure this is the case for many teenagers and the preference for texting where emotion is so hard to convey over voice calls can surely only lead to less empathetic teenagers?


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