The technology through the eyes of teenagers

Stop complaining that young people today are addicted to their phones. The question you should be asking is: What do they know that you do not?

Although you may not believe, there are advantages of using technology as teenagers do. I asked a handful of boys between 11 and 17 years without which applications and tools they can not live. Your answers made me question my own habits: Why I use e-mail to communicate with my friends? Why only share my best photos?

Teenagers are among the most creative users of technology, in part because they do not have adult assumptions about the way things have to work. With a smartphone, many teens can be connected almost all the time, which changes the way you keep in touch with friends and how they are expressed.

Snapchat, the photo-sharing app that disappear after a few seconds, often confuses people who consider the photographs as something formal and even permanent. But teens love so they can communicate with snapshots, especially disposable photos. I am not recommending that everyone start using immediately Snapchat, but how about if you try.

I did it for a week with my affable septuagenarian parents. After several failed attempts, they sent me “snaps” (or shots): my dad trying to pack your suitcase, my mom making funny faces. I emailed them a picture of tomatoes from my garden.

My mom did not like how quickly the photos disappeared. But my dad thought it was a good way to keep abreast of the activities of their children and grandchildren. The ability to communicate with my parents in short messages gave me the opportunity to be in touch with them even when they did not have time to call or write.

Experience showed us everything we should share many more photos. The snaps we send are not “important”, but sharing those moments unites us more. In my conversations with teens-and sociologists that students found four practices that could change the way that adults use technology:


Only 6% of teens exchange emails every day, according to the Pew Research Center, a Washington think tank. Guys reserve the e-mail for official communications.

“Email is for applications to college”, Orbuch says Ryan, a 17-year Colorado.

Instead, Orbuch uses several messaging applications according to the people you want to communicate. For example, use Snapchat for conversations between two people, Facebook Messenger to chat with groups and Twitter for people who do not know in person.

For both adolescents and adults, the quality of an instant messaging application depends on the group of people who can locate her. The lesson for adults is that these new tools like WhatsApp, eliminate formalities e-mail. No “Dear” and “Sincerely”.

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Today, 91% of teens post a picture of themselves on social networks, according to Pew. The photos and short videos shared on Instagram or Vine can capture a funny moment, or communicate something in writing might offend or annoy parents. The lesson for adults is that one can express things in images that would take longer to read or write.

“I could not see 50 publications and texts from people just as fast as 50 publications on Instagram”, says Kapp Singer, 14, in San Francisco.

But who wants to see all those images? Share can also irritate other teens. Instagram and other photo apps is indeed an antidote: instead of filling the tray all people share an image, while users choose who to follow. If someone is expecting too much, you can just stop following or muted.

And do not limit yourself to photos. Colorful “emoji” keyboards are available in the iPhone and phones using the Android operating system, which many used to emphasize the emotions in your posts. If they seem very small, you can try the larger “stickers” type cartoons that are in Facebook Messenger and other messaging services.


Adults assume that young people do not care about privacy. But 58% of users of social networking teens say they disguise their messages, according to Pew, inscrutable using cryptic images and jokes to communicate in code. “Teenagers are growing up in a world in which surveillance for granted”, says Danah Boyd, an expert in social networks.

Natalie Jaffe, a young woman of 17 years in Pittsburgh, says it shares changed based on the people who will see this. “Just tell me that my stuff is right” he says, aware that his 600 followers on Instagram include both friends and their parents. The lesson: one can be in the “public” without sharing shameful things for posterity.


The reason that adolescents adopt new technologies with such enthusiasm is not born having knowledge about them, they are not afraid to try something new. Teens think like: “How can I test and experiment and bring this thing to my will, and make it do what I want?” says Amanda Lenhart, Pew, which examines the use of technology by young people.

Sometimes invent new uses. In Venmo, an application to exchange small amounts of money, teenagers pay your friends $ 1 or another token amount to say “thank you”. It’s like the “I like” but with a monetary value. The lesson for adults is that experience is as important as the prompts. Do not be discouraged if not develop a skill instantly. Talk to a teenager: you will be surprised what you can learn from them.

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