Amazing Kids! Magazine

Facebook and Twitter- The Beginning of the Social Media Revolution

By Gen L’Esperance, Sci-Tech Kids Columnist

I was asked to write about Twitter alongside Facebook but I have to tell you that in my age group we don’t use Twitter. While Twitter is a revolutionary social media tool, all my friends do their “tweeting” using Facebook. Statistically less than 14% of our generation use Twitter and of those I can easily bet that 10% are probably because of Justin Bieber (just to be able to follow him, not necessarily for any other reason). The other 4% are probably fans of some other celebrity like Vanessa Hudgens or Zac Efron.

That aside, Twitter has had exponential growth in the last year alone. Basically its primary use is to sit on a mobile device (and your computer when you’re in front of it) that allows you to pass on your own late breaking news or your most interesting thoughts for your “followers”. And that’s a big piece of it. You need people to follow you on Twitter for them to get your ‘tweets’ as they are called. Since most of us already do that in 140 characters or less on Facebook Status and we carry Facebook on our mobile devices, the use of Twitter almost seems redundant.

But what of the revolution of these social media superstars? Well, if you haven’t seen the movie Social Network then the story behind Facebook is really quite simple. Launched in February, 2004 the main person behind Facebook was Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook was meant as a social media tool for Harvard students only but quickly expanded to other local universities and then throughout North America. After changing from “TheFacebook” to “Facebook the app” as it is now known, it went into rapid fire growth, especially after inviting companies like Microsoft (small shareholder now) and Apple employees to use Facebook. From there Facebook has grown to almost half the homes in the United States and 600 million users worldwide.

What’s so great/revolutionary about Facebook and other tools like MySpace, Digg and others? It’s really too simple. You see what’s happening all around you at any given moment in time, in real time, with your friends, friends of friends and you make new friends. Your friends can move, go on vacation or be at home; you’re always connected. It’s 24/7 updates without ever having to pick up a phone.

From “News Feeds” to “tagging” to video sharing, social media tools like Facebook and Twitter now put instant news in our hands. In fact we’re now not only listening to this new kind of news, we’re reporting on it too.

And time and distance is no barrier. When something happens in New Zealand, like the recent flooding, we now know about it in seconds rather than hours or days and it’s not sensationalized. At the same time you can instantly be with your friends as the land at the airport, get on a scary amusement park ride or show you the great item they just bought .

Our “circle of friends” has changed too. Social media has taken what used to be maybe 10-15 friends our parents would count as their “buddies” to over several hundred close and virtual friends as we now become connected to people we would otherwise never be talking to around the world. But even so we now generally have hundreds of friends just within our own geographic area because of the ease in which we can introduce each other at such a quick pace. That also makes it possible for so many of us to see the world through other people’s eyes, through thoughts and pictures.

It now isn’t just adults that can make a world of difference and band people together. Our generation has a voice that is bringing clean drinking water and food to children who need it. We make or break social issues of the day by our influential attention or lack thereof to a Facebook page. We’re influencing who is a star and how music is sold to us. We’re the digital natives and social networking is our domain. Since we all expect instant results, social media has given us just that and a lot more. And the next step will certainly be virtual rooms like in The Sims where we can chat in an even more digital, but “feels like you’re almost there”, atmosphere. There’s no turning back. As long as there is the web and electricity, social media is here to stay.

Gen

To see my view on the Social Network Movie, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/geninctv?feature=mhum#p/a/u/1/NhQbYKG9HHs