Is the End Near for Social Networking?

social networking tombstoneYesterday I read an interesting article by George Simpson titled The Sun Sets On Social Media. It’s worth the read, but if you’re in a rush, Simpson starts by saying,

“An annual report on the state of the UK’s television, radio and telecoms markets says that social networking has begun to mature ‘both metaphorically and literally especially for teens and those in their early twenties.”

And then he goes on to expand on the findings of the report by adding his observations of the communication habits of his 3 teenagers.  He says their worlds revolve around texting, they don’t use Facebook much, and have no interest in Twitter or blogs.

Prophesying a forthcoming end to social networking is pretty bold. It’s contrary to all the hype social networking is getting these days. So, let’s take a closer look…

1) Are teens abandoning social networking?

My kids are still too young for MySpace and Facebook. I would guess I have about a dozen or so teenagers from my church who I’m Facebook friends with. About half of them regularly update their status and post pics, and the other half rarely post anything.  I only have a few college age friends in Facebook, but they seem pretty regular. My friends who work in high school and college ministry are prolific Facebookers.

I’m not seeing a trend of teens leaving social networking, but I really don’t have a good vantage point. What’s your observation? Are teens and those in their early 20s abandoning social networking?

2) Are teens an accurate predictor of communication trends?

On the surface, young people seem to be early adopters and less resistant to change.  But where have recent communication trends taken off?

Web pages started with university professors and students, then spread to business and personal use.  Email did as well.  Blogging gained popularity among adults in their 20s and 30s as a way to communicate news and views that weren’t being discussed in the main stream media.  Mobile phone use initially took off in businesses, particularly those who needed to keep in touch with sales people who spent a lot of time on the road. They were the only ones who could afford it.

For all of those media, college students and 20-somethings were the early adopters not high school students.

MySpace was the first big social networking site. It gained popularity first among teens, but it’s dying primarily because it’s too high school.  Facebook, which started among college students has surpassed MySpace and has gone mainstream.  Texting is perhaps the only form of communication that has really gone mainstream after first gaining popularity among teens.

Grown Up Communications

I think teens are bad predictors of communication trends because they communicate differently than adults.  Most high school students are just trying to get through school and have fun with their friends.  They are not trying to get stuff done.  They are not trying to lead, influence, or market.  (Thank God, there are many exceptions.)

Usually sometime in the college, young people start to shift their sites from having fun to finding their place in the world, trying accomplish something, make a difference. When that shift occurs so does the way a person communicates.

Going back to the report Simpson cites, I agree, “social networking has begun to mature.” For that reason, I see the trend towards social networking continuing to grow.  How about you?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

7 Responses to “Is the End Near for Social Networking?”

  1. Myspace was a huge thing, but in all reality, AOL is a social networking site what was King, problem was you needed to pay…

    Myspace (I have been on since 2004) has sold out. There is no structure as anyone can really mess up their pages. It is full of ads and unwanted material.

    Facebook was exclusive at first, allowing only college age students to create a profile, they made a good move to allow anyone.

    In the education world, twitter is very important and needed.

    Social Networking is here and alive. It will go strong until something better comes?

    But looking at Social Networking, we can look back to the Bible.. where Jesus was our first Social Networker and the Churches were the sites.

    If social network sites are to connect with people, that is what Churches were for.

  2. Mark Steinbrueck Aug 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I have heard that the reason why some teens and college aged kids are abandoning the use of social networking is that these networks are being shared with their parents and grandparents. What started out as a “cool club exclusively for kids” has turned into a family reunion. Kids are wanting to share their experiences with their friends but want to have some privacy (especially from their family) when doing so. Texting is a private way to communicate with your friends (until your parents contact Verizon for a print-out of the 15,000 text messages that their 14 year old sent that resulted in a $800 bill). I don’t think that social networking is going out the window, I think that the demographic of those that are using it may simply be changing.

  3. Social networking is very important, I’m still learning. Still have no idea what twitter is or even how to use it. There is a real danger to rely too much on social networking. I’m on Facebook, have a Web address, and E-mail, Cell phone. But, nothing really is a subtitute for the personal human touch. it is the annoiting that destroys the yoke. Technology, and money are only tools to used to further the work of the Church, and the Kingdom. E-mail me, tell what you think. “parsonjoe1@verizon.net” Visit my webpage”www.ourchurch/member/u/upperroomgather”. I’m looking for an army of believers who will take no prisoners, and be ready to do Spiritial battle for the Kingdom of God!!! Have a Jesus-filled Day!! Dr. Joe Milligan,D.D. Upper Room Ministries , Gathering of Friends Fellowship

  4. Greeetings,
    Mark said:>>> I have heard that the reason why some teens and college aged kids are abandoning the use of social networking is that these networks are being shared with their parents and grandparents.

    I think it depends on the younger generation, my chldren invited me to join facebook. Now I am not on there very much at all, and I tend not to nose into their open conversations – except to use that for prayer sake (shhh) where needed. I think it is a good thing for children to be able to be open and them selves before all. It can help mature them and keep them off a track they may tend to go – via negative influences.
    I too think some are just seeing a change, maturing, and growth of the young adults. Give 8 years added to those in their late teens or in their early 20s and there will be a change seen in how they relate and communicate and the reasons why.
    I don’t think social netwroking is going anywhere unless there is no choice in the matter.

  5. This is not true. Social Media is only beginning to grow. I have no idea what this guy is talking about.

    I am 41 years old and I am on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, 2 blogs, email, texting and I use everyone of them. Each one is for a different reason.
    LinkedIn is for business networking
    Facebook is for personal networking
    Twitter is to announce things. Good food, new blog entry, got a ticket, how was a certain movie, etc.
    Texting is if I need something now from someone.
    Email is conversation at my leisure.

    I use social media all day for everything in my life. My wife is hooked on Facebook. She texts, and is totally loving it. It’s not going anywhere. If you get rid of Facebook then you get rid of all your family and all your high school friends. You lose touch with everyone.
    People who think it’s going somewhere doesn’t know what Social Media is for. They need to stop being afraid of it and embrace it. I am constantly training people to use these forms of media.

    I have 2000 subscribers to my Youtube channel. I have over 2000 followers on Twitter. I have over 156 friends on Facebook. There is no way I am going to get rid of all my contacts. When I post a new cooking video on youtube I notify all social media at one time through Ping.fm. Then thousands come to see my video. Then they watch my cooking video and youtube pays me for my viewers. I did all this for free. Didn’t cost a thing.

    Yeah. Social Media is dead. (sarchasm)

  6. Good observation in the article that Myspace is dying and Facebook is thriving. The reasons why are just conjecture, really though. I think I can come up with a story closer to the reality of the situation than Myspace simply not being “cool” anymore because adults use it.

    Everyone knows Myspace started off as a “cool” place for teens to go where adults didn’t really want to be bothered because they were generally too busy.

    Sure enough, the secular humanist/evil media got wind of the pedophiles who sadly took advantage of the lack of parental oversite and meanwhile “the world at large” got to “discover” what young people, teens, pedophiles and computer geeks already knew a long time ago- that social networking was the next big thing.

    The media is quick to judge and slap labels on everything that we are left stuck with it, which is not very Christian if you ask me, because human righteousness is like filthy rags and the only reason we know right from wrong is because we know Jesus personally.

    People are endlessly getting things twisted. Anyway, to sum up my point…

    Human Being- Earth bound vessel (or for purposes of my point, TOOLS) of God training to resist evil on Satan’s planet.

    Computers, MySpace, Facebook, Handguns, Condoms, (Insert Man Made Product Here)- TOOLS of Humans, for humans, by humans. We as Christians can and should use them to glorify God. I’m honestly not too sure that a Christian can, in fact, use a condom to glorify God, but my point is that evil is not in the objects that man has created. Evil is in the flesh since the fall of man at Eden. The enemy is within.

  7. I just want to say that upon re-reading my message, I demonstrated that the enemy is even in me, even though I am saved and sanctified by the sacrifice at calvary, I will be of the flesh and thus a work in progress until the day he comes back.

    I committed the sin we are unfairly stereotyped for as Christians- hypocrisy. I “judged” the entire media to be secularist and evil.

    While that may be indicative of a trend, it really is foolishness to suggest that there are no good Christians that are members of the media trying to make it better and trying to stop all the distortion of the truth.