A common question from librarians is “Where are the kids online?” Of course, the answer to this question changes regularly. Teens shift their allegiances to social media channels periodically (remember when all the teens were on Facebook?). The short answer though, right now, is that they’re pretty much on Instagram and Snapchat. With this latest shift, some new etiquette has become the norm. If you’re a teen librarian (or even a parent of a teen), take note: the rules have changed, and they’re definitely not always obvious.
I’ve recently read two articles from WIRED that have been very enlightening on this front, and I recommend them to anyone who is looking to not come across as totally unhip:
- Like. Flirt. Ghost: A journey into the social media lives of teens. This is a fairly in-depth look at the online social lives of five different teens across the U.S. There are quite a few interesting nuggets about how this group uses (or doesn’t use) social media. Here’s just three:
- “For teens, ghosting (where you completely disappear and stop communicating, with zero announcement or explanation) is common and not considered particularly impolite.”
- “For teens, texts and snaps and video calls are real life, the equivalent of walking around in the mall for hours in the olden times, trying to catch the eye of a hottie in the food court.”
- “According to Lara and Sofia, when your friend posts a selfie on Instagram, there’s a tacit social obligation to like it, and depending on how close you are, you may need to comment.”
- The Teenager’s Definitive Guide to Social Media Don’ts . Here, the rules are laid out in an easy-to-read format. “YOU’RE ONLY AS relevant as you are clued in. Don’t be a social pariah—avoid the hellscape of awkward behavior and secondhand embarrassment by never, ever breaking these ironclad rules.” Here’s a visual sample:
Both are definitely worth a read–even old dogs can learn new tricks, right? Hopefully teens will be using Snapchat and Instagram long enough for us all to learn the rules.
Also published on Medium.