Teens Don’t Work, Either

“Teens don’t tweet” is trending on twitter right now, I imagine in response to this Nielsen report.

My thought on this is that there are an awful lot of activities that are useful to adults but not to teens, and vice versa. If we’d get over the insane notion that the cultural wave we are experiencing right now is being driven by 12-year-olds (it’s not), maybe we’d get further on analyzing this.

My guess is that many teens don’t tweet partially because the micro-societies they belong to are rather insular, and often place-bound, places where the “friend” model works well. Twitter’s “pub-sub” system is a far more flexible and effective system for gathering information outside your primary group of friends — but I think for many teens this is not a huge issue.  Things move directly from the College Humor site or YouTube hotlist, into their circle of friends and that’s fine.

I don’t know about you all, but what I find is that for professional communication at least, Facebook is lousy. It’s lack of pub-sub seperation discourages people making the sort of far-flung connections they need to stay informed. The way that it closes off your updates to non-friends is great for concealing you life from the eyes of parents, but lousy for professional use, where all of your updates are not searchable by the community at large.

What I use Facebook primarily for is keeping up with friends. Twitter ends up being about collecting and disseminating professional and political information (with some cultural bits in there). If we dropped the Prensky nonsense for just a minute, it might be easy to see that although many teens don’t use tools like Twitter they may need them in the future as they develop networks based more on interest and professional need than on, well, socializing. In an ideal world, responsible higher ed institutions would see guiding students through that evolution as one of their primary roles.

That’s what we’d do, at least, if we’d get over the insane notion that the cultural wave we are experiencing right now is being driven by 12-year-olds. And I think society is on the cusp of making that realization — just not quite yet.

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