The End of Facebook? Teens Flocking to Other, Newer Social Media - South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

The End of Facebook? Teens Flocking to Other, Newer Social Media

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Everywhere you turn, someone's on social media.

On computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets -- it seems no one is immune to the pull of social networking.

As new sites come along every day, it can be hard for parents to keep up with their tech-savvy kids, especially as more and more of them are logging off the stand-bys like Facebook and logging on to social media where there parents are not.

Like this, retweet that, hashtag this, share that; it's a strange new world of social interaction.

For McGregor High School sophomore Leah Bates, it's a new way to lose privacy.

"Sometimes, like if I'm having a conversation with my friend," Leah said, "my mom might put something embarrassing on Facebook."

So she basically avoids it. She likes Twitter and Instagram way better.

"A lot with my friends," she says of her pictures on Instagram, "there's some selfies."

Leah's one of the legions of teenagers with Facebook accounts that sit idle.

"I really don't see kids posting. I mostly see adults posting stuff," said Margaret Tippie, also a sophomore.

Carrie Buckley, a freshman at UMHB, described Facebook as "kind of like an older generation type of thing."

"It became more, like, older people," fellow UMHB freshman Elise Evans added.

You might not consider yourself older, but the fact is, Facebook is getting grayer: The fastest growing demographic on the site is 55- to 70-year-olds.

UMHB Social media marketing professor Mindy Welch sees that first-hand with her teenage daughter.

"She tells me all the time that she gets her notifications from her Facebook that's mainly from her mom or her grandpa," Welch said.

So, basically, like everything your parents like when you're a teenager, Facebook is just kind of uncool.

Now the question for parents: What is cool?

"I post like any pictures of myself, like this was the day I got my driver's license," said 16-year-old Caitlin Zacharias as she went through her Instagram account with us.

"They want to show their world, they want to show themselves," Welch said. 

The key word bring show, not tell.

"I just don't like to sit there and read it all," Tippie said.

"'Cause we're lazy," said Cedric Carson, a sophomore at UMHB. "It's easier to take a picture than to type."

"People like to share their stories through pictures," added 18-year-old UMHB freshman Michael Hicks.

That's one of the things driving growth in sites like Instagram and Pinterest. All of the pictures and videos without all of the boring writing to scroll through.

And Twitter, at just 140 characters per tweet, is easier to get through.

"It's not too much of all the other stuff, other drama that you could get into with other social media sites," Hicks said.

But is that enough to dethrone the king?

Instagram boasts 150 million users; Twitter, more than 500 million. Facebook has more than a billion registered users.

And some of them, like Leah Bates, believe it's just a matter of time before their cool, new social media falls into more wrinkled hands.

"They like to see what we're doing," Leah said, "make sure we're not doing anything bad."

And the easiest way to monitor them is to hit follow. But it takes more than that to make sure your kids are being safe.

Margaret Tippie, the McGregor 15-year-old, got away from using her Facebook account because too many family members were there.

"One of my friend's moms takes pictures of us, so that's really the only reason that I get on there," she said.

She's more drawn to Instagram. There's just one little problem: Her mom's there, too.

"Baby pictures," she said, "I don't like it when she posts old pictures like that. Most of the time that's what she posts and I don't like those."

Kids are following their parents on social media to keep their reputation intact. But they don't always know what's going to hurt that rep.

"You've got to watch what you post," said 17-year-old McGregor senior Jaret White, "for employers and colleges down the road. Having my parents follow me, it's a good check."

Sometimes it can be an annoying check, but it's a necessary one, especially as more social media use goes mobile.

Almost four in ten teenagers have smartphones. Three in four teens use the Internet on mobile devices at least occasionally; one in four almost exclusively.

That's why digital media specialist Caryn Brown suggests ground rules.

"My kids' rule is anytime I say it, I'll just pick up their phone, and I have to have their passcode to get on it or it's my phone," Brown said.

Especially with new sites coming out every day, it's tough to stay on top of them all.

Pheed,, Vine, Kik, Tango, Snapchat -- all offer ways for teenagers to share things they shouldn't.

None is especially unique, just more specialized.

Brown suggests having a conversation with your kids about what should go on those sites.

"This picture was appropriate, this picture wasn't appropriate, you know, we need to take this picture down."

Know your kids' passwords and follow them on whatever sites they use. That helps you, and them, keep control over their online personality, because once it's in cyberspace, it's there for good.

"And unfortunately there's nothing you can do about that," said Brown.

"There's just a lot of things I think should remain personal," Winter Martinez, a sophomore at UMHB, agreed. "We shouldn't be so open about everything."

And now there are more ways than ever for teens to open up their lives online.

"Facebook, I think, is kind of falling off the grid," Tippie said, "but it'll be quite a while before it does."

Even if it ever does, social networking is simply the new normal.

As most parents know, teenagers like their privacy, so just asking them about new social media might not do the trick.

It's important to take the initiative and do the research on your own to know what's out there, and how it works.