Millennials: Truths, Lies, and What They’re *Really* Doing on Their Smartphones

Excerpt from this article:

Precisely why young people differ from earlier generations is really rooted in what they consider to be the essential truths of their own generation. They believe:

  •     The old guard doesn’t care much for young people.
  •     Technology—smartly leveraged — can effectively turn longstanding power structures on their heads.
  •     Partisan politics offer limited solutions and fewer results to the most important issues of our time.

In this report, we’ll take a deep dive into:

  •     Part One: Young People’s Approach to Making the World Suck A Little Less
  •     Part Two: For Young People, The Future’s So (Sort Of) Bright
  •     Part Three: How Young People Get Busy, Online and Off
  •     Part Four: Why Politics is a Game Young People Don’t Want to Play

Read on. And let these young people surprise you.


These Girls are the Self-Made Queens of Tween and Teen Social Media

Excerpt from this article:

You may not have heard of “Baby Ariel” Martin, “TheyLoveArii” Trejos, and Loren Beech – but if you have tween or teenage children, they probably have. And, if you have a business that either caters to the tween and teen markets, or utilizes social media as part of its marketing, you definitely should learn from their advice.

Together, the three girls, now ages 14 and 15, have over 30-million engaged followers across social media, and receive millions of likes on their posts just about every day – far more than achieved by many A-list celebrities and public figures. And here’s the kicker – all three of them built their entire, massive, super-engaged audiences in well under a year. You read that correctly.

The three girls are all “musers” – that is, users of the video social network that I discussed earlier this month, and it was on that platform that they built their names and brands. Ariel and Ari came to the platform in the spring of 2015, and Loren posted her first video last July. All three saw their following skyrocket last summer – they finished their 2014-5 school year as typical middle school kids, but by the time the new semester began last September, they were de facto celebrities. Ariel is now homeschooled, Loren is in school online, and Ari still attends a public school.

Heavy Internet use leads to school burnout in teens

Excerpt from this article (thanks Daan for the link!):

The research suggests that the most critical stage for tackling the problem of digital addiction and school burnout is age 13-15. The most effective way of supporting adolescents’ mental health and preventing excessive internet use is to promote school engagement, to build up students’ motivation to learn, and to prevent school burnout.

Depressive symptoms and school burnout in late adolescence are more common among girls than boys. Boys suffer more from excessive Internet use than girls.

For girls, YouTube is an addictive sinkhole. Trust me, I know …

Excerpt from this article:

To the average teenager, YouTube is not just about cat videos (although they are the most fun to watch), it is also about YouTubers. Usually, the life of every teenager involves one YouTuber or another. They are a new form of celebrity. They include figures such as Tyler Oakley, a huge personality on the site and an LGBT phenomenon, PewDiePie, a dedicated gamer (with 40 million followers), or, possibly my favourite, Dan and Phil, a duo who play video games, bake and share their most embarrassing experiences with the world.

We are drawn in by the avalanche of content they create, but also by the lives of the YouTubers themselves. For phangirls like me, the problem is that watching these YouTubers tricks our minds into thinking that we are interacting with other people.

Why Your Kids Love Snapchat, and Why You Should Let Them

Excerpt from this article:

The short shelf life of [Snapchat] images lets teenagers abandon the need to emulate the perfectly posed celebrity, or to represent life as more fabulous than it really is.

…Most visual platforms put feedback from peers at the center of the experience. Life on Instagram, for example, is as much about the rush of scoring likes as sharing something creative with peers. Many users view likes as a barometer of popularity and even self-worth, with some even deleting posts that haven’t drawn enough attention. For tweens and young teenagers, the yearning is so powerful that many post content designed only to collect likes (the popular “rate for a like” post, for instance, offers to rate friends on a scale in exchange for a like). They may follow “Instagram stars” with hundreds of thousands of followers, observing what appear to be perfect lives that are, in reality, perfectly curated.

Not so with Snapchat, where audience participation is minimal. There is no “like” button to be found here, and no unwritten rule of reciprocity. Users have two choices to share content: post a Story, where the app will stitch together a slide show of your content from the last 24 hours; or share directly with a person or group of your choosing. You can see who watched your Story, but viewers can’t reply. That means you spend more time sharing and consuming, and less time worrying about who liked you and who didn’t.

Pew Research Center Report: Teen Voices – Dating in the Digital Age

This is an excellent report, loaded with tons of focus group verbatims from US teens, illustrating online behaviours from flirting to dating to breaking up:

It was relatively rare for teens in our focus groups to talk about meeting romantic partners online. Some teens explained that they would not trust someone they met online because of the likelihood of misrepresentation, while others were generally distrustful of all strangers online.

You might be catfished.
– High School Boy

Half of all teens (50%) have let someone know they were interested in them romantically by friending them on Facebook or another social media site, and 47% have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media.

Teens also spoke about social media as an information-gathering tool that helps them find out all sorts of information about a potential partner, like whether they are dating someone or not.

When I have a crush on someone and I want them to know I go on their page and like a lot of pictures in a row.
– High School Girl

On liking a crush’s photos on Instagram: Like all of them. Like, like, like, like, like, like all the pictures. You’re the right cute factor.
– High School Girl

On how girls show interest on Instagram:
Emojis, but the main way you’re going to know is like when they first say ‘hey.’ How many y’s they put on their ‘hey.’ Yeah, they do that a lot.
– High School Boy

Well, if you really putting yourself out there, you could comment on their picture with a heart emoji.
– High School Girl

Teens take a number of steps to show that they are in a romantic relationship with someone, and many of these rituals take place on social media. In our focus groups, teens spoke about the reasons why couples might showcase their relationship on social media, from seeking attention to letting others know that they are now “off the market.”

Yeah. You need to have the padlock emoji with a heart and two people holding hands
– High School Boy

Asia’s smartphone addiction

Emoji tattoo

Excerpt from this article:

Nomophobia – or no mobile phone phobia – the onset of severe anxiety on losing access to your smartphone has been talked about for years. But in Asia, the birthplace of the selfie stick and the emoji, psychologists say smartphone addiction is fast on the rise and the addicts are getting younger.

A recent study surveyed almost 1,000 students in South Korea, where 72% of children own a smartphone by the age of 11 or 12 and spend on average 5.4 hours a day on them – as a result about 25% of children were considered addicted to smartphones. The study, to be published in 2016 found that stress was an important indicator of your likelihood to get addicted.

Smartphones are central to many societies but they have been integrated into Asian cultures in many ways: there is the obligatory “food porn” photograph at the beginning of any meal; in Japan it is an entire subculture with its own name – keitai culture.

In South Korea, 19-year-old student Emma Yoon (not her real name) has been undergoing treatment for nomophobia since April 2013. “My phone became my world. It became an extension of me. My heart would race and my palms grew sweaty if I thought I lost my phone. So I never went anywhere without it.”


Illustration by Erik Carter. Screenshots from Vine users Alona Forsythe, Brandon Bowen, Dems, imanilindsay, MRose and Sionemaraschino.

Excerpt from this article:

The Vine videos that rise to the top of the heap typically feature dance routines, quick-cut pranks and the occasional clever stop-motion short. But if you tap into the video-sharing app’s raw “fire hose,” a different picture emerges… reveal[ing] that buried beneath those popular Vines lies a less visible but more intriguing trend: six-second displays of normalcy. Rather than killing time at the mall, in a Spencer’s Gifts or the food court, young people are filming themselves doing the incredibly mundane: goofing around in a backyard pool, lounging on basement couches, whatever; in other words, recording the minutiae of their lives and uploading it for not very many to see.

…A cynic might dismiss all this obsessive self-documentation as evidence of generational narcissism, but you could just as easily choose to view it as a developing global pastime. Call it borecore: the never-to-be-viral output that comes from mixing powerful devices and a lifetime of social-­media training with regular, old teenage boredom. Seen this way, its predecessors are more prosaic than pathological: doodling in a composition notebook, making scrapbooks, driving around aimlessly. But that simplicity, that sameness, can feel magical when you binge on it: a series of furtive glimpses into the lives of people across the country and around the world doing a whole lot of nothing.