Much to the eye-rolling chagrin of teens, it seems that most people have a tendency to overlook their youthful opinions. After all, they spend their days doodling on notebooks in study hall, don’t they? What could they possibly know about the “real world” or how to shape it?
As it turns out, a whole lot.
According to The Atlantic, teenagers actually have a pretty solid business sense, especially in the realm of social media. Their favorite social networking patterns are an indicator of tomorrow’s Next Big Thing. Writer Derek Thompson puts it best when he says “from Facebook to Snapchat, what appear to be dumb toys for teens wind up billion-dollar industries.”
Parents and other adults may want to pass off young people as frivolous, but in this age of information, they may be trendsetters with more powers of prediction than any other demographic. They understand “trendy” in a way that the rest of simply don’t.
Take Facebook, which was created to be used by students in their teens and early 20s. Even as it started to spread to colleges across the country, adults were mystified by it. However, as the site grew in popularity, it proved to be just as useful for them as for their kids, despite the very different social norms that developed among different age brackets (do we really need to revisit that one time your grandma commented with a “How have you been sweetie? See you at Thanksgiving!” on that picture of you trashed at a kegger? I don’t think so).
The Facebook scenario repeats itself with each new form of social networking. Adults dismiss a teenager’s online hobby as an indulgence of “dumb kids” and shortly afterward, it becomes a new norm for the whole country. Remember the quaint good old days when texting at the dinner table was something that only snooty 15-year-olds did? Those days are certainly gone, and now just about everyone in every age range has trouble putting their phone down. The same goes for Snapchat, which got its start as the latest Mecca of teenage networking and is now the latest toy for the masses. It’s such a big deal that both Facebook and Google tried to buy it for $3 billion. Instagram started out as a teenage toy as well, and we all know where that ended up.
So, what can we learn from this? Teenagers are wiser than we think, and I would venture that this doesn’t just apply to social networking.
[Photo of girl taking a selfie via Shutterstock]