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SXSW Interactive 2014

How to Appreciate Teens' Social Media Practices

After a decade of using sites like Facebook and MySpace, teens have glommed on to countless new apps, from Instagram to Snapchat to Vine. They share tremendous amounts of content, but encode it so that parents can't understand the meaning. They enact all sorts of dramas, but make it invisible to those not in the know. They move seamlessly between services, but have coherent models of who is where. What might seem strange from a distance actually makes sense from a teen's perspective.
In this talk, youth expert danah boyd will help the audience interpret various teen social media practices, examining privacy and drama, social media addiction and the desire to connect with new people. This talk will build on danah's new book - "It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens" - and offer additional insights for making sense of emergent teen trends. Finally, danah will offer concrete strategies for parents, marketers, and technologists trying to understand youth culture.

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  1. Why are teens starting to use a bunch of different social media sites and apps? Is Facebook dead? Where are they going? What's the next big thing? [Hint: where in the world is fun for everyone to hangout in the same place with everyone they've ever met, including their exes and family?]
  2. Why are teens using apps like Snapchat where the content disappears? What are they trying to hide? And don't they understand that you can still save those images? [Hint: they're trying to create an ephemeral world where thoughts can be expressed through images.]
  3. Why are teens posting so much online when everyone can see what they share? Don't they care about privacy? Aren't they worried about who might see what they post? [Hint: just because you have access to the content doesn't mean that you can interpret what's being said.]
  4. Aren't youth putting themselves at extraordinary risk when they go online? Isn't the online world full of predators and bullies and other dangers? How do we keep kids safe online? [Hint: design, build, and parent for the actual risks youth face rather than the mythical stories that are often told.]
  5. What are five things that I can do as a parent/marketer/technologist if I understand the basics of contemporary teen culture? [Come find out!]



danah boyd, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

Meta Information:

  • Tags: youth, social media
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Social and Relationships
  • Track 2
  • Level: Beginning
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