In Social Media Age Matters

So is it any longer a surprise to say that my mom is as active on Facebook as my 15 year old son? While everyone knows that the teen and 20-somethings were the first to mark turf in Facebook and other social media platforms, it is now just as understood that the other age groups have rapidly increased their use and are quickly catching up. Now 72% of online adults use social media and those over 65 have tripled their presence in social media in the last four years according to Pew Research Center’s latest findings.

What is less understood is that the different age groups are using social media for very different purposes; but this also shouldn’t be surprising. Developmental psychology has long documented that as individuals age, they have significantly different needs both emotionally and socially. In an insightful article in MIT’s SloanReview by Professor Gerald C. Kane, he nicely outlines how five different age groups use social media and how understanding these groups will lead to better engagement.

Here is a summary of his findings:

Early adolescence (ages 13-18): Peer Pressure: Successfully identifying with a peer group.
In this group, Professor Kane points out that these teens are in the developmental stage and trying to figure out where they fit within social groups. Because of this, they are actually more reluctant than most other groups to independently like things or join groups unless their friends also do and have unsurprisingly gravitated towards mediums like Snapchat, where the messages delete after a few moments, in case they say the wrong thing or would in essence “like” what is unpopular. This lets them socialize within the group with less risk.

College-age adolescence (ages 18-24): Role Experimentation: Exploring personal and professional identities.
This age group has the most Continue reading “In Social Media Age Matters”