Insights Into How Kids And Teenagers Use Social Media In Their Everyday Lives

Photo of 3 youth people on street

I’ve been doing a number of Youth Marketing consulting projects since I launched and continue to seek out youth related research.

Recently, I came across a rare find of fabulous free research. Researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley carried out a three (3) year study to gain insights into how U.S. teenagers use digital media. To learn more, you can download the free report here

The key learning for Digital Marketers is that youth expect to interact with brands the same way they interact with their friends online. In effect, digital marketers need to understand the role of technology in establishing, reinforcing, complicating, and damaging friendship-driven social bonds in youth’s everyday lives to understand how youth audiences want to connect and communicate with brands online.

No surprise that for many contemporary U.S. teenagers, losing access to social media is tantamount to losing their social world. Just as GenXers had done in parking lots and shopping malls, teens gather in networked public spaces for a variety of purposes, including to negotiate identity, gossip, support one another, jockey for status, collaborate, share information, flirt, joke, and goof around. In other words, they go there to “hang out.”

Although the specific Social Media tools vary by geography, time, and peer group – Social Media tools mediated interactions. In other words, Social Media allow teens to extend their interactions beyond physical boundaries. Conversations and interactions that begin in person do not end when friends are separated. Youth complement private communication through messaging and mobile phones with social media that support broader peer publics.

After first outlining a historical and conceptual framework for understanding teen peer-based friendship, the report also examines how social media intersect with four types of everyday peer negotiations: making friends, performing friendships, articulating friendship hierarchies, and navigating issues of status, attention, and drama. In all of these cases, we consider how the unique affordances of contemporary networked publics are inflecting existing peer learning, sharing, and sociability in new ways.

The “Kids’ Informal Learning with Digital Media: An Ethnographic Investigation of Innovative Knowledge Cultures” is a three-year collaborative project funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Carried out by researchers at the University of Southern California and University of California, Berkeley.

To learn more, you can download the report here

For additional Youth related research I recommend Pew Research and Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital blog

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