Using Social Media in YL for the 2015-16 School Year: Reflections on the Latest Pew Research

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Anyone who knows actual living, breathing, teenagers is well-aware of their social media consumption. It is high, really high. It is tool of life for us all. For YL leaders it is a tool, an important tool. Note that it is just a tool. I’ve tried to capture some of the changes in the trends in the past (see HERE and HERE).

In the past year I had a feeling that a lot of teens I know were moving away from Facebook. I noticed more and more students (and leaders) I know saying they couldn’t remember when they last checked it. But, I also noticed they didn’t depart from it completely. I also picked up a vibe that the ones who were telling me they were not using it also probably wouldn’t have admitted that they still like cartoons… they do, they just don’t want people to know it.

Last April, the Pew Research Center released its latest findings on teenagers and social media. Here are some of their findings:

      · 92% of teens are online daily

      · 24% of teens are online “almost constantly”

      · Nearly 75% of teens have access to a smart phone (only 12% do not)

      · Percentage of teens who use the following social media platforms:

                      71% Facebook

                      52% Instagram

                      41% Snapchat

                      33% Twitter

      · Older teens (15-17) are more likely than younger teens to use Facebook

      · Younger teens (13-14) are more likely to use Instagram

      · An average teen sends and receives over 30 text messages per day

      · Affluent teens have a higher use of Instagram and Snapchat than lower-earning families’ teens

Here are four observations for the upcoming school year…

  1. YL leaders already knew that 92% of teens are online daily and 24% are constantly online. We knew that before Pew Research knew it, they just gave us the numbers. We are front-line workers.
  2. Don’t abandon Facebook. The ability to tag kids and comment continues to be a great feature. It is the best way to dump a ton of pictures online and tag them.
  3. If you don’t already have an Instagram account for your YL club, consider starting one, even more-so for WL.
  4. If you want to communicate with kids directly (and have permission to do so, see my link below), text them. Even text them a picture of them at club or a YL event. In my opinion text messaging will be the stable platform for many, many, years to come. Facebook, Insta, etc. will eventually go the way of MySpace, likely to be replaced by Twitter for quite a while, but text messaging will stay the best way to communicate with young people.

As always. Be smart and above reproach with all communication with everyone, including teenagers, but use it as a springboard for genuine in-person friendship. See this post for more on this.

I have a couple questions for you:

1. How does the Pew Research compare to what you see? Their research was done almost a year ago. You likely talked to kids this week. What do you see?

2. Though Facebook use is still high, I have a feeling Facebook events are not being checked as often. What is the best way to get information about an event out to people? Do we need to go back to postcards in the mail?!

3. How do you maintain your own boundaries with social media so it doesn’t dominate your own life? This can be difficult for YL leaders as we can too quickly equate a buzz on our phone with our call to minister the gospel.

Looking for summer camp follow-up/campaigners resources? Look here.

Looking for a way to get contact work started in the Fall? Look here.

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