This blog post was supposed to be “A Parent’s Guide to Facebook: How to Avoid Embarrassing Your Millennial Kids Online.” So I started by interviewing my 13-year-old son.
When I told him what I was writing about, he looked up from his video game just long enough to smirk and say, “I don’t use Facebook.”
Interview concluded. So much for that story.
Is Facebook Just for Olds?
My son went further, saying Facebook was where old people go to find old people.
“Why would I use Facebook when there are a lot of better ways to chat?” he asked. When I suggested that perhaps he’d have some interest in the newsfeed, he just stared at me, scoffing.
Granted, I am the parent of an introverted, self-proclaimed computer nerd. He’s not necessarily representative of all post-millennials. But I think he’s on to something.
How + Why Generations Use the Internet
Let’s back up a bit.
I am the son of a baby boomer. I am right on the Generation X/millennial line. My youngest coworker's age is exactly in the middle of my and my son’s ages. We’re all online — but ours are barely the same Internets!
This was my first office job as a web developer, circa 1998 or so. It connected to the Internet with a cable.
The Internet and I grew up together. I was one of the first teens I knew to have the Internet at home.
In those days, the online population was sparse. Knowing someone both online and off was impossibly rare. So those of us who were online built ways to connect. Bulletin boards led to chats and forums, early ancestors of what we would come to call “social networks.”
We were homesteaders. We settled the Wild West, proving the Internet to be neither fad nor toy but rather an essential thing.
The baby boomers followed along, but for a different reason. They had lives, history, friends scattered throughout their states, countries, the world. Social networking was a way to reconnect and reengage like never before. It became a true world forum.
My son, his friends, his generation — they don’t know what it’s like to connect because they’ve never been disconnected. They don’t have a past to reconnect with, either. They don’t need an app to tell them who to be friends with. They already know their friends and will communicate with them on their terms.
So How Does a 13-Year-Old Use the Internet?
Here's a list of my post-millenial's favorite web apps.
The list is his, the postulation is obviously mine, and your mileage may vary. (I'd love to hear your thoughts or experience — connect with me on Snapchat or Twitter.)
Spotify: We all love Spotify in our house; we get every bit of our money's worth on our family package. My wife and I have diverse (even eclectic) taste, with dozens of playlists and artists spanning several decades.
In contrast, my son listens to one genre. He has one playlist of all his favorite EDM tracks, and it’s all in the same decade. (“Sandstorm” is still in that window. I checked.)
Twitter: Just kidding. He doesn’t use Twitter, except to unlock in-game content in certain apps. When those apps force his hand, he complains vigorously — but still does it.
Snapchat: Snapchat speaks the teen language: See something goofy, say something snarky. My son particularly enjoys documenting pets doing funny things, drawing pictures on my face, snarking about me, and exposing national advertising fails.
Most days start with a snap of his bed head. Whatever keeps the streak going, right?
YouTube: When he isn’t playing video games, my son is watching videos of video games. This is also a good source to find those advertising fails (or other life bloopers) he snaps me.
YouTube is the new “America’s pastime.”
Google: This is where it all begins. Schoolwork, funny pictures, snarky videos, video game hacks. This was the real aha moment for me: kids these days don't go to websites anymore. They go to Google.
The post-millennial generation isn't looking for a home page to replace their newspaper or a newsfeed to tell them what they might like. They don't even think of the Internet in terms of webpages. It's all just content, and they’re looking for the quickest answer right now.
It doesn't matter if it's your $10,000-dollar website, a Wikipedia article, a YouTube video, or a free forum post. The medium doesn’t matter — but whatever it is, it better show up on the first page and answer their question immediately.
As it happens, that's what this dad does for a living.
We might not be post-millennials here at 9 Clouds, but we know how to talk to them.
Contact us if you have questions about marketing in 2017. We know it's confusing. We're here to help.
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