For teens, social media is not technology, it’s just life

January 13th, 2008

Alan Kay got it right when he said “Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.” — a quote I’d not heard until I saw it on danah boyd‘s blog recently. She cited it to explain why today’s youth find it so natural to use Internet technology while their parents find it a bit strange and artificial.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project published a report on Teens and Social Media with the tag line “The use of social media gains a greater foothold in teen life as they embrace the conversational nature of interactive online media”.

“Some 93% of teens use the Internet, and more of them than ever are treating it as a venue for social interaction — a place where they can share creations, tell stories, and interact with others.
    The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet, up from 57% of online teens in a similar survey at the end of 2004.
    Girls continue to dominate most elements of content creation. Some 35% of all teen girls blog, compared with 20% of online boys, and 54% of wired girls post photos online compared with 40% of online boys. Male teens, however, do dominate one area — posting of video content online. Online boys are nearly twice as likely as online girls (19% vs. 10%) to have posted a video online where others could see it.”

The Kay quote reminds me of Arthur C. Clark’s third law:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

although I am not sure anyone really sees blogging as magic. Maybe it’s not yet sufficiently advanced.