Twitter: the kids don’t get it?


Twitter: so the kids aren’t all over it. But could they be? We all know how short sighted and ‘temporary’ their fads and followings are – nearly as short as mine are – but after writing my blog post about realistic uses to convince non believers of its effectiveness, could I write the same for young people?

or could we?  

First up, lets now look at what benefits Twitter offers its users:

1) Real time information
2) infinite connections with people all over the world
3) straight to the point communication
4) you can pick up and drop friends like smarties with no real comeback.
5) Update via your phone 

Next, lets look at some gross generalisations of young people: 

1) they get bored easily
2) they want to customise everything
3) they are still carving out their identity
4) they are skint (mostly)
5) they have no life priorities or commitments

oops… that wasn’t supposed to be a list of negatives, so to balance that out, lets examine what young people ‘want’ out of life:

1) to be taken seriously by their peers/parents
2) to meet the partner of their dreams
3) to make a shed load of cash
4) to be popular
5) to travel the world

ok, that’ll do for now. So with these ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ in mind – can Twitter provide these? In some respects yes, as you can collect followers to be popular and meet new people to find a partner.

But that’s not enough. If we look at why ‘we think’ kids aren’t on Twitter already:

1) they want to connect with their existing friends – not meet strangers
2) Twitter is full of adults – which = dull
3) They already have enough status updates coming out of their ears.
4) Twitter doesn’t have enough features to make it worth joining
5) … I can’t think of a 5th.

Sooooo, that’s a nice load of lists so far – where does it take us?

Looking at the lists above, can we come up with some definitive reasons why Twitter can work for and will be useful to a teenager? 

The first thought of mine is mixing with adults. There comes a time in every school kids life when work experience creeps up on them and suddenly, whether they like it or not, they have to face the real working world and mix with them – even if it is just for a couple of weeks. 

Also lets look at what adults have, and kids want – money. 
And here’s something that adults have which kids want – advice and answers to things they don’t know.

I’m sure there’s more, but for the moment I can’t stop thinking about ‘work experience’  – what better to be able to communicate with a load of adults, that are employed and possibly owning companies,  than through a nice safe 140 character digtal medium of messaging? I recall from being a kid that the thought of having to write a letter to several companies and beg my sorry ass off for a week under their unpaid employment, knowing full well that I didn’t have anything to offer them, and only motivated to do so, because a teacher was bearing down over – scared me shitless to say the least. 

http://nearbytweets.com can find me people in my location, http://wefollow.com lists twitterers by knowledge and skillsets, and the tendency on Twitter itself is to pimp under your realname – you are using your realname right? (if not, sort that out pronto) – All this is shaping up to be an excellent starting point for young people to mix with adults, and arrange work experience placements. 

I’m sure there’s many other things we can think of that kids can make use of on Twitter, but for the time being, that’s my best immediate shot at concluding – have any ideas? 

let me know – mark

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3 thoughts on “Twitter: the kids don’t get it?

  1. I started using Twitter about a week ago, and I’ve been struggling to stay interested in it. Part of the problem is the 140 character limit. I prefer to write a lot more than that; blogging is a more natural medium for me. Another part of the problem is that I’m currently following only one person and only one person is following me. I should be more aggressive in finding followers and finding people to follow, but at the risk of sounding selfish, I really don’t care what other people are posting on Twitter (and I can’t believe anyone would care what I’m posting. I don’t really care to read about all of the mundane things that people do. I do follow several bloggers, and I enjoy that experience much more.

    But to the point of your post . . . I think the “adults are on twitter and adults=dull” theory has a lot to do with it. It’s funny to see mainstream media go ga-ga for Twitter and assume that it’s what “all the cool kids are doing these days” when really it’s just what all the adults are doing. Kids have Facebook and texting on cell phones. Why would they need Twitter?

    And besides, the best way to determine whether something is cool is to ask whether one’s parents know about it. If they do, then it’s not cool, and Twitter is something that most parents have heard of. It’s definitely not cool.

  2. Firstly, thanks for stopping by. Good to hear your thoughts on the topic of twitter as it is something that I too have struggled with. Take a look at my other blog post, where I wrestle with the same thoughts you have: http://bit.ly/dxw5n, and also check out this post on Digital Intimacy from the NYTimes from 6months ago. As it explores ambient awareness, which may also help you in your writing about young people.

    With the mainstream going ‘gaga’ for Twitter, and you (by your own admission) not ‘getting it’, do you sense that you’re losing out in some way?

    I used to agree that something is ‘cool’ if your parents aren’t on it, but since that statement, the Internet, mobile phones and status updates have arrived and they look here to stay, for all generations.

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