Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has been a social network for the adult crowd. Celebs, political officials, news outlets—these are the type of users you’d expect to find tweeting away; sometimes multiple times a day, but the question is why? Is there something about the Twittersphere that makes it an ideal public space for adults and scholars to congregate and disseminate their thoughts and opinions in 140-character increments? Well, yeah, there is, or at least there has been for the past seven years.
Tweeting (as infantile as it sounds) is a term that represents the voices of those who aim to speak and provide insight on current events and pressing issues. If you don’t believe us, then head to Twitter during an election, or when a potentially life-changing bill is at the hands of the nation’s political officials, or when the country is in the midst of a nationally publicized criminal trial, or after a natural disaster.
So, what demographic can you think of that has little to no concern about the issues outlined above? Yup, you guessed it—teens. This is not to say that teens aren’t affected by these issues, but it’s not far-fetched to assume that they don’t necessarily have politics and world peace at the top of their priority lists.
Imagine a high school girl who is active on social media. Do you think she cares more about the guy she has a crush on, or who is running for political office? If she cares more about the latter, then more power to her, but the majority of teens care way more about their crushes and who is canoodling with who under the bleachers during the football game.
The only way for Twitter users to protect themselves is by checking the background information of their new followers. That way, they’ll know if any of their followers are dangerous, and they can block them right away.
Times Are Changing
Don’t get us wrong, Twitter still holds its place as the ideal social network for adults, but recently, a new wave of users has emerged, practically overnight. This new wave is none other than—teenagers. For many years, experts predicted that Twitter would never appeal to this age group because teens were fixated on other social networking sites, particularly Facebook. Well, it looks like they were wrong because each day, more and more teens are creating Twitter accounts.
The most surprising aspect of this change in users is not who, but why? Well, it seems as though teens are migrating to Twitter for—get ready for it—more privacy. More privacy?! That seems like a crazy and certainly ill-informed reason to join Twitter since it’s much less private than other social media platforms.
It turns out, teens aren’t heading to Twitter for privacy from the general public. They’re actually trying to get away from their families, particularly their parents. See, Facebook has become so popular in recent years, and that popularity has attracted a new demographic of more mature users—i.e. parents. In fact, some teens have said that Facebook has been “overrun by parents,” and this has led to a growing number of teens who delete, block, or lie on their own profiles so as not to let their parents into their personal lives.
Most parents haven’t taken to Twitter, so the site provides the perfect place for teens to congregate without having to worry about their parents seeing their posts. They also don’t feel the need to be concerned with privacy because they know that their family members won’t see their tweets in the first place.
Potentially Dangerous Repercussions
The inherent dangers in this new trend lie in the fact that teens are often irresponsible on social media. Their main concern is getting away from their parents, but what about the criminals who lurk around social media sites looking for teens who have their guard down because they know their parents can’t monitor their activity?
More often than not, teens will share too much information, and they’ll be too trusting of strangers who befriend them online. These lackadaisical behaviors put teenagers at a much higher risk of being targeted by an online predator. Teens should be cautious when exploring their new-found digital freedom.
Jennifer Valencia is a blogger from Los Angeles, CA. She specializes in writing about social media and how the demographics of popular sites have changed over time.