Home > social media > The social media buzzkill?

The social media buzzkill?

When looking back at my childhood, specifically the overly complicated and emotional early teen years, I seem to remember one glaring observation I constantly had: My parents were so DUMB! I wanted nothing to do with anything they had to say or do and I was absolutely positive I was right about everything. Obviously my point of view has changed since then, and changed dramatically. As I embark on my own job search I realize that my father actually knows quite a lot about certain things…the industry I want to go into for example (advertising). I’ve also learned that my mother is also someone beyond the (inferior) Scrabble player that I know so well.

One other thing that I do remember so well is that if my parents wanted to get involved with anything I was doing…it was less fun for me. Parents are a buzzkill. I apologize mom and dad, but it’s true. Not so much in the present since I am grown up and “mature” but I certainly knew that they could not possibly have any social skills, at least when they were around my friends.

The reason for this recollection is some research I recently did at work the other day. I was compiling, in a nutshell, a data dump on mobile usage (demographics, mobile social media, bridging online and offline worlds, etc) and a consistent finding in most studies and papers was that baby boomers (see: my parents) are currently undergoing a huge increase in social media and mobile usage. The responding question from me is: How is the younger generation going to feel and react to their parents being a part of something that was strictly for the younger generation only a couple of years ago. For example, Facebook was restricted to college students at first, then all students, and now it is open to anybody with an email address. This includes the older generations like the Boomers. I remember the first time I got a text message from my mom, it was almost surreal. Looking back on it now I have no idea why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that the means of communication that was reserved just for my friends up until then, was being invaded. Then again, when my mom started using emoticons (for all you technologically not-so-savvy readers that means smiley faces) I was similarly weirded out.

Check out this data from a recent eMarketer study, about a quarter way down the page: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-differences-among-teens-boomers-and-moms-new-study-findings/

Does the introduction of my generations parental figures joining our scene mean something for the future? Are we going to get too freaked out by our parents popping up in our news feeds, getting Facebook chats from our grandmothers, and having yet another way to be monitored by our families constantly? I personally think that the attitudes of kids will approach this new situation differently. The onset of social media usage by all generations is/was (is it in the past now?) inevitable and I feel that there are still plenty of ways to put distance or separation between oneself and certain people. Facebook has its privacy settings at this point which do help a lot; family members are constantly telling me how much they want to see my wall, pictures, etc but they can’t because of my privacy settings.

The most difficult problem with families all using social media is the line between one’s social life and family life, which used to be completely separated, is now extremely blurred because parents and other family can see exactly what you are doing, who you’re doing it with, and all of the completely appropriate *snicker* activities that are documented almost daily from users. This blurred line is disappearing but I think will always be there.

Facebook is always evolving, to the chagrin of it millions of users who hate the random and unexpected new profile layouts, but it will continue to evolve and address the different “markets” of people on its site. Does this mean it will have different settings for corporate users (conference call features, business oriented apps, etc.), younger kids (apps and games that are age appropriate, better friend/community oriented services), and middle generations (job help, college appropriate settings, etc.)? This could happen, and I think it would help users stay more involved with the website and stay on the site longer if it catered more specifically to who they are. Right now the clean-cut, universal layout is perfect for people to easily learn to use, customize (to a limited extent), and get used to but I people need reasons to stay on the site after a while. The setting needs to change, to keep users interested. Something will need to change to keep users happy, so they don’t move on and a MySpace-esque exodus occurs.

So what do you readers think? If you’re my age, or close to it, is the presence of parents good or bad for Facebook and your own personal interests? If you’re a parent, do you even give a damn what your kid thinks? Are you on Facebook to be on the bandwagon or using it for business purposes? Comment on it or vote in the poll.

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Categories: social media
  1. June 28, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Great post!

    I honestly want my parents to be on Facebook because I’d much rather hear from them that something on my profile is inappropriate verses a random Facebook acquaintance. And truth be told, most people won’t say anything if you have inappropriate stuff on your profile – they’ll just talk about you behind your back. At least my Mom would ask me what the heck I was thinking:)

    You’re right though, even with your privacy settings on super private you can’t control what pics/videos your friends put up of you. You just have to be extra careful around people carrying cameras.

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