Teenagers don't use social media to share links, says Microsoft researcher

Fast Company

In a conversation with Evie Nagy, Microsoft Research Principal Researcher danah boyd talks about how teens use social media. It's not the same way grown-ups do:

My adult Twitter experience is more of people using it for professional communication or news sharing or brand building or comedy. How do teens use Twitter differently, and what do adults need to understand most?

The first thing you would notice if you were following teenagers is that you would not see very many links. Which is radically different than our world. They're doing a lot of interacting and engaging around celebrities, pop culture, really funny trending topics that they think are interesting, I'm sure you've seen some of the crazy hashtags. And of course with Instagram, hashtags have become even stronger on Twitter. Hashtags are content in and of themselves. I'm not sure if you saw that SNL sketch that was like 'hashtag, how are you today?,' etc. There's a degree to which this is kind of true when you look at teen content. They're also more likely to have protected accounts, and use it to talk to a small group of their actual friends. To them Facebook is everyone they ever knew, and Twitter is something they've locked down to just a handful of people they care about--which is often the opposite of how adults use them.

Pew reported last year that 21 percent of all U.S. adults between 18 and 29 use social media to consume news.

Boyd's new book, "It's Complicated," is based on 10 years of her research, and Nagy writes it "explores the motivations and even sophisticated etiquette that governs teens' online behavior, and explains how adults--including businesses looking to attract a teen audience--can ditch the fear and condescension, and embrace teens' complicated but important relationship with technology."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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