Social media through a teen’s eyes

Post by guest blogger, Lexie Maitland

Let’s be honest, parents/adults and teenagers use and view social media differently.  I’d like to spend some time pointing out the differences in this post.  We all use social media, but for different reasons and through a different set of goggles.  What do I mean by this? My parents didn’t know social media existed until several years ago. They grew up socializing differently.  Me? My friends? This is what we know, how we stay connected.

teen-facebookSocial media is perceived and used differently by teens…

In general, adults tend to see funny or cool posts from their family members, events, and current happenings in their social circles or society in general. On the other hand, teenagers’ social feeds are full of much more redundant information from their peers. I think we can all agree that, in general, the content displayed on teenagers’ social media feeds is very different than what trends on adults’ social media feeds. Because of this, I have decided to walk you through some typical content that I, as an average teen, see on my social media feed (Twitter specifically).

Twitter it is…

Like every other teenager, I check my Twitter feed often. Whenever I have a few free minutes during the day, Twitter it is! My thumb gravitates to that icon on my iPhone’s screen. When I tap the Twitter icon, I see a wide variety of content ranging from useless tweets to annoying or simply inappropriate tweets. What I mean when I say “useless tweets” is that they are tweets that really serve no purpose. Ones such as “I am really tired,” or “My house is so cold.” Seriously? Who really cares if you are tired or if your house is cold? Not this girl and probably not the rest of the Twittersphere!  Oh, wait a minute.  Someone is ‘craving Doritos’.  That’s useful- not.

Let’s talk about the annoying and/or inappropriate tweets. You’ve heard of them.  They are the ones that use vulgar language or that bully someone or make fun of them. I have learned to sort of block out these tweets and ignore them, because they are there as part of the public community.  They happen.  But, I don’t have to acknowledge them. I honestly believe that the people who tweet/post such useless, inappropriate content are simply craving attention.

Other than negative tweets, I also see bad pictures posted in places like Instagram. What do I mean by ‘bad’?  Pushing the limits and crossing the line.  Throwing out something slightly shocking to get a reaction. For example, I see a lot of people posting pictures of themselves at parties. I’m 16, and there are lots of kids my age who think it’s cool to post pictures of themselves holding alcohol and posing for a picture. They may think it’s cool now, but what will they think ten years down the road when scholarships/colleges/ jobs are turning them down?

teens with alcohol

Another thing I see that’s disturbing is when girls my age post pictures of themselves wearing very inappropriate (very little) clothing. Like I mentioned earlier, I think this is obviously a call for attention. It’s not just girls, though. Boys looking for attention do the same thing, for example, posting pictures of themselves shirtless in front of a mirror.

What you post today might haunt you tomorrow…

But, my question is this.  Twitter is so…public. What you post today, you might regret tomorrow. I know this only because my mom has been a social media safety advocate for as long as I’ve been online. But, who’s telling and training other kids? Who’s doing “mission damage control” so they don’t tweet or post their way out of scholarships, competitive sports teams, college or jobs?   More importantly, how can I make an impact to keep others from making mistakes?