Tag Archives: technology

Social media demographics: Not just loudmouth ignorant kids, after all.

Pingdom released data a month ago charting the demographics of various social media platforms, and it’s an interesting read.

There is a very real negativity when it comes to social media, with many people assuming that it’s destroying our youth and creating a generation of ignorant, anti-social zombies who have no ability to communicate face-to-face and little interest in anything other than posting endless selfies on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Not so, critics.

One of the most interesting things from my perspective is that this study is that more than 50% of social media users are aged between 25-44. At 28 years of age I slot in at the lower end of this age group, and I must stick up for my demographic category when I say that I’m certainly not part of a disconnection generation.

Then again, I grew up offline.

The age groups younger than mine – 0-17 and 18-24 – possibly didn’t have that luxury. Many of them don’t remember a world without the Internet, and more significantly, a world without broadband, which has allowed instant and persistent connectivity. However, I refuse to believe that lifelong Internet use has has a negative impact upon these people. In fact, I firmly believe that growing up in this era of digital ubiquity has created a generation of people who intrinsically understand technology and how to process information. They’re a generation that know more about the world than we, and those who came before us, ever did.

Sure, they sometimes post stupid things online and forget that the written word is markedly different to spoken ephemera, but I’d like to speak to the person who didn’t do something silly in their youth and have to learn a harsh lesson from their actions.

The widespread cynicism over social development amongst smartphoned young people is another thing that bothers me. Critics seem to forget something fairly major about the perma-connected youth of today: they still do things like attend school and hold down casual jobs. They still have families and friends. This means that they’re still interacting with people on a daily basis. The fact that they might seem endlessly engaged in a Facebook conversation doesn’t mean that they’re not learning to engage with others. It might just be that they’re engaging in a different way.

I refuse to believe in the myth of the selfish, distracted youth of today. Sure, sometimes you get shitty service in stores or some snot-nosed kid pushes in front of you in line, but guess what? That’s pretty much every group of teenagers, ever, since the invention of teenagers themselves. The only different is that we’re getting older and more critical, just like every other generation has done before us.

Back to the study, though. There are more people using social media between the ages of 45-54 than there are between the ages of 18-24. Think about that. Yes, it’s a bigger age group (10 versus 7 years), but it suggests that social media is far more embedded into our parents’ daily Internet use than they’d like to believe. Even sites like Facebook – long considered the bastion of youthful irresponsibility online – has far more ages in the 45-54 age bracket than it does in the 18-24.

Perhaps, just maybe, the youth of today aren’t as stupid and shallow as we like to think they are.