At 23 years old, I’m already out of the loop.
This has never been more apparent than on Thanksgiving, when I talked to my teenage cousins to get a sense of what teens think is cool, and what’s already passe.
Obviously, their opinions don’t reflect an entire generation, but as tastemakers in their groups of friends in middle school and high school, they have their fingers on the pulse of what kids spend their time and money on in 2015.
Here’s what I found out from talking to them:
- Facebook is cool again. Last year, I talked to my then-13-year-old cousin, who told me that Facebook was “for mums.” But now that she’s in high school, Facebook is essential for her social life. Mostly, she likes Facebook Messenger to talk to people whose phone numbers she might not have. She caved and got Facebook, she says, because all of her friends were doing it and she didn’t want to be left out of her high school class’s private Facebook group.
- They can’t get enough of Snapchat. Both of my cousins opened up the Snapchat app on their respective phones to show me how they use it, and each had more than a dozen unopened Snapchat pictures, videos, and messages from their friends. Both say they use Snapchat as a messaging service to talk to friends second only to Apple’s iMessage (this is an iPhone family). They even watch some of the Discover channels on Snapchat, and they say BuzzFeed and Cosmo are their favourites.
- VSCOcam > Instagram. We wrote an explainer about VSCO earlier this year, but it’s basically like an artsy version of Instagram with better filters. Often, teenagers will have a link to their VSCO account in their Instagram bio. VSCO is artsy; Instagram is more inherently social. It’s where you post pictures of you and your friends before the homecoming dance.
- Teens don’t care about Twitter. Unless they’re huge followers of bands like One Direction of 5 Seconds of Summer, which have huge followings on the platform. But don’t expect mainstream teens to contribute much to Twitter’s recently flat MAU growth.
- They cringe hard at internet slang. I asked them if their friends actually said things like “on fleek” and “squad” (I was sceptical) and they both just laughed at me.
- Teen girls love Brandy Melville. The five-year-old Italian retailer, heralded as “the next hot brand in teen retail,” sells a bunch of trendy clothes, like tiny crop tops, high-waisted bottoms, and slouchy sweaters. They didn’t seem to know about or mind the store’s controversial one-size-fits-all sizing style.
- They don’t just have one Instagram account. Some of their friends have several Instagram accounts: a general one, an “artsy” one for their “photography” (which as far as I could tell were just pictures taken with their iPhone of things other than themselves and their friends), and an account that their parents don’t know about (you can post pictures there of you and your friends drinking, I suppose). On the whole, though, it seems like teenagers are just accepting the fact that their parents are on the same social media platforms as they are.
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