I would have never created a Facebook account if it wasn’t for liking my school’s page. Amongst my group of friends Facebook is commonly known as “the social media for old people”. In my opinion, I and my teenage friends personally find Facebook as an outdated platform to consume from.
I was never a fan of Facebook’s layout since users do not get an overview of all the posts, they have to scroll down past numerous large photos and chunky paragraphs to view older posts. Furthermore, I prefer to consume information that is visual, I doubt that anyone at the age of 16 will choose to read paragraphs of text from Facebook posts. Our attention spans are not long enough. Pictures and infographic-like data is preferred since they are short and quick to comprehend.
Also, the main Facebook users are mainly in their 30s to 40s which include most parents. Many teenagers (including myself) dislike the idea of parents knowing everything that is going on in their lives. There are certain photos, videos and jokes that we would like to stay within our friend groups.
Then what social media platforms do most teenagers use?
The answer is short and sweet, Instagram.
I started using Instagram back in 2014, when the format was vintage blue and brown. I posted numerous pictures on my first account which included my daily lifestyle, interests, selfies and funny videos. I enjoy scrolling through my feed and discovering the luxurious lifestyle of celebrities, chic fashion styles of influencers and being able to contact with friends at my old school.
I consider Instagram as an ‘all in one’ social media platform as it collaborates features seen in many different social sites into one. Apart from its main function which is to post pictures into a grid-like feed, it has group texting features like Line and WhatsApp, it has live streaming features like Facebook, stories with cute filters can be posted like on Snapchat, hashtags can be followed like on Twitter, new ideas and inspirations can be discovered on its explore page like in Pinterest.
Moreover, I personally find Instagram as an ample platform to present myself to my current and new friends I meet. It’s clean, grid-like format makes my profile more presentable. As my friends view my profile, they get to see a nice overview of my feed. It is a tradition to trade Instagram usernames and follow each other everytime I attend inter-school sport competitions in order to keep in contact with each other. It would be an absurd thing to exchange Facebook usernames with my new friends because no one has it.
For me, Instagram seems like a middle ground for privacy. Despite following each other’s accounts, the app gives me the freedom to control how much information gets leaked to them. I have the freedom to control what goes in my bio, instead of being forced to enter my gender, birthday, school and occupation like on Facebook.
I never thought that Facebook was such a significant platform for news consumption until I I had a chance to gain an internship at workpointTODAY. On my first day, I was asked by my colleagues about what social media platforms teens use so I told them that my friends and I only use Instagram to contact each other. Also the fact that I told them that and I barely use Facebook and none of my friends have Facebook accounts mortified all of them.
‘So where do you keep up with the news’ , they asked,
As a person who loves reading and staying updated, I believe that there are many other sites apart from Facebook which I can access the news from. I mostly read the news on their original websites. I have subscribed to The Economist where they send emails to alert me about their new articles every morning.
I scroll through their headlines and choose to read the ones that I am interested in, the link that directs me to their full article is embedded as a hyperlink. Instagram also notifies me about news updates around the world, Bloomberg regularly posts their headlines on their feed which has the link to the full article inserted in their post caption. Also, I browse through The New York Times and Bangkok Post to read their opinion articles as well. Whenever I want to read Thai news, Line Today is also a viable option for me.
Apart from reading the news from online platforms, I also watch breaking news on TV every morning with my parents. We often watch the news from the BBC, CNN, CNBC, Workpoint News which I find their updates on the world and local news very informative. Furthermore, we like to discuss global issues, business, economics, sports, media and new STEM technologies that are currently happening around the world. I personally find sharing our personal views and insights towards each aspect as a very eye-opening experience because I get to understand the news from an economical perspective which therefore expands my knowledge about it even further. For instance, we discussed the impacts of COVID 19 on gold and oil prices. Lastly, I read the Bangkok Post’s papers that are delivered to my house everyday.
The worry of overconsumption on TikTok and Instagram.
For this problem, I believe that it really depends on the content that each person consumes from TikTok and Instagram because a coin has two sides: social media can be such a beneficial platform in spreading information and awareness however its misuses of spreading fake news can consequently disbenefit us.
I personally disagree with the statement that teens might becoming more dumb consuming it; apart from the viral dances and life hacks that pop up on my ‘for you page’, I have seen TikTok stars like Charli D’amelio using her fame in this platform to educate users about Black Lives Matter.
TikTok is also a site for all users to share their creative ideas towards each other. During quarantine, some of my friends decided to share their baking recipes, tips, tricks and hacks on Tiktok which had gained popularity amongst my school community. In addition I have seen trending hashtags such as #Tiktokuni where popular creators would upload numerous informative TikToks teaching users languages, science and humanities. Campaigns like #TikTokuni expands the breath of our knowledge through concise yet fun 30second videos.
I try to balance between the consumption of funny memes, videos and posts with more informative articles on Instagram. Also, I find the app as a very accessible social platform to discuss certain issues, spread news and raise awareness between my friend groups. We can group message to discuss the news together or share particular posts and their article links together. Recently, lots of my friends have been sharing information and raising awareness about the current crisis happening around the world.
Without Instagram, I would not have known the websites and links to educate myself about racism and how to support ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Without Instagram, I wouldn’t have known about the causes of the Yemen famine crisis.
Without Instagram, I wouldn’t have known about the second wave of COVID 19 outbreak in China.
Teenagers maybe losing their attention to Facebook, but it doesn’t mean we are losing connection to what goes on in the world.