The rise of the Screen Teens

A Social Media snapshot

A recent study carried out amongst secondary school children in Wales has revealed that nearly a quarter of teens wake up in the middle of the night to check their smartphones. In light of these findings, The Sun ran an expose over the weekend of three youngsters who admittedly use social media when they should be getting precious sleep…

The article introduces a 12 year-old girl who apparently spends hours on WhatsApp (chatting to friends every school night) meaning she doesn’t get to sleep until 3am. Another girl in the article admits to waking up at 5am to message friends who are online abroad and perhaps worst of all, a 14 year old boy who sets a 4.30am alarm to check Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

Obviously these are some of the most extreme scenarios – and we can’t see the height of social media addiction being this severe for every teenager in the county (we hope); but it does demonstrate a shift in the way teens are using social platforms to communicate. Last week, our very own Lucy Porter went to a Social Media Week talk by Battenhall to find out more about the ways teens are using social media and there were some interesting learnings.

For Gen Z, messaging apps are huge, with Snapchat ruling the social space – they need to be in constant contact with their friends or they suffer serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Instagram is also big and a key part in teenage self-expression; whilst Facebook, which has been adopted by an older generation in recent years, is mainly used to manage large amounts of friends through events pages and the messaging function.

Perhaps the most interesting take-away from the talk was finding out about how young people are using Amino Apps, essentially mobile topic-based communities where you can share messages, photos and videos. Amino Apps are set out like gateway communities (the sort you’d use before you start using Tumblr/forums/blogs) for followers to discuss a range of niche topics. Everything from Taylor Swift to Doctor Who and more general topics like makeup are discussed through the platform. As fandoms go, it doesn’t get more exciting than having a community of fellow Swifties or Whovians at your fingertips, so it’s definitely an area to watch!

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 17.04.53

It can be easy to scorn these digital obsessives but after a quick poll of the PrettyGreen office we uncovered some of our own shameful social media habits:

• Not being able to go off Instagram until they’ve scrolled to the very bottom or got to the last post that they viewed
• Hashtagging everything (even the most embarrassing hashtags) hoping to gain more followers
• Refreshing their page to see if they’ve got any more likes/RTs or followers
• Setting aside 30mins before bed to check every social channel
• Ruthlessly unfollowing people (even friends) if they post anything self-indulgent on their feed
• During match day reading every single tweet from the 90 minutes of the game that comes up
• Only using Facebook for the messaging function and not posting any updates
• Collecting WhatsApp messages but not replying to them until much later – nothing like keeping people hanging!

Join the conversation on Twitter and tell us your worst social media habits!