For a glimpse of the changing social media landscape for today’s teens, consider the Witt sisters of Champlin, Minn.: Courtney, 20, and Claire, 16.
They have Facebook pages but only check them a few times a week. Still, their online social lives are bustling—on sites like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
Why? “Our parents are on Facebook,” Courtney said.
While adults are flocking to Facebook, teens are migrating to newer, cooler networks that Mom and Dad have yet to discover. That might be a frustration for parents, half of whom initially signed up for Facebook to keep tabs on their kids.
But it’s simply a digital version of the classic game of cat-and-mouse that parents and teenagers have played for decades.
“Teens want to congregate someplace that adults are not,” said Shayla Thiel-Stern, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota who studies youth and social media. She likened it to parents and young teens attending a high school football game together.
“During the game, [teens] are going to find a place where they can meet their friends somewhere behind the concession stand,” she said. “This is the online version of that.”
(Next page: Where teens are hanging out online these days)