In the past week or so I’ve presented my social media workshop 16 times. That’s crazy. It’s one thing to have a talk memorized but it’s another thing for it to become your meditation. I love that content and I love the impact of the workshop. But I’m also a bit thankful to not have any booked for a few weeks and concentrating on other stuff.
All of those presentations were primarily to middle schoolers or parents of middle schoolers. (And one for pastors who focus exclusively on middle schoolers.)
And in each of them, at some point, I gauge what social media apps middle schoolers are using on their phones or tablets. (iPad or Kindle)
I don’t have a 13 year old. So my middle schooler doesn’t use any social media in the traditional sense of the word, though both Megan (12) and Paul (10) regularly play Minecraft or other games which have a social element to it. (No. Really. We are a COPPA compliant family.)
What are they using?
Here’s the order I’ve heard most frequently. Bear in mind, these are 6th-8th graders.
- Text replacements like Kik (there are a pile of those out there right now.)
- Everything else
What about Facebook?
Facebook is still very popular across all demographics. With more than 1 billion active users lots and lots of people are on Facebook, even though it’s become cool to treat Facebook like we used to treat Myspace, the reality is that the middle schoolers I’ve been interacting with just don’t care about Facebook. That’s their older brother’s social network. Or their moms.
Based on the conversations I had last week I’d say gaming, especially games with a small amount of social interaction, is where it’s at for early adolescents right now.
What do they all have in common?
Pseudo-names. Seriously. None of the apps that middle schoolers are talking about requires you to use your real name.
That’s a direct reaction to Facebook.
It’s part of the larger fracturing of the demographic base we are seeing right now. Perceived anonymity is a response to an ecosystem where everyone is known by a headshot and full name.
And it’s a pendulum that wildly swings back-and-forth over time. (Myspace > Facebook > Current fracturing )
So where’s it headed?
Well, we’ve gone from Xanga to Snapchat in 7 years. Xanga was all about words and now Snapchat is a lower form of communication than a meme on Instagram.
So I don’t see things getting lower on the food chain of communication. It has to go up again.
Based on the fact that today’s middle schoolers grew up paying for social gaming via WebKinz & Club Penguin, I think a paid, ad-free app would do very well.
Paul gave up candy for 6-months to earn enough to buy Minecraft. ($29) So this tribe is willing to pay for something if they see the value.
And I’m confident that it’ll have a verified way of knowing you are who you say you are. Maybe iPhone 5S will pave the way towards bringing user verification back en vogue?
Right now, among what is popular, I see a lot of pretenders and not a lot of contenders, for who will be dominant in 2-3 years among this powerful demographic.