Monthly Archives: September 2013

Instagram generation gap closer than a photo finish

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

A relatively new form of social media, Instagram was launched in October 2010. Since then, 16 billion photos have been posted by over 150 million users, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings.

What makes Instagram different than any other social network? Initially, it was designed to share nothing but photographs taken by users and uploaded for “friends” to see.

An article written by Eric Markowitz for noted that the network’s title “Instagram” came from a combination of “instant” and “telegram”.

Statistically, the generation gap for Instagram is less apparent than other social networks. Those aged 18-25 make up 34.4 percent of Instagram users, while those aged 26-35 make up 30.7 percent of the social network’s age demographic, according to an article on

Natalie Tafoya, a 29-year old from Phoenix, enjoys having an Instagram, though she has only had it for a few months.

“I like the fact that there’s not a lot of [words] going on it,” she said. “It’s just a lot of pictures [that] make it easier to look at.”

Tafoya checks the site “once every few days” but says that she is not surprised that the teenage demographic is the one that uses the social network the most.

“This demographic is in to taking pictures a lot,” said Tafoya. “They want to show everyone all of their pictures and show off that way and it’s a really good visual way to show off.”

James Anderson, an 18-year old from Mesa, Ariz., agrees.

“I think people take advantage of it,” he said. “They take too many pictures of their food.”

Anderson does not have an Instagram and is not sure if he will ever get one. However, he, like Tafoya, understands why teenagers use it so often.

“Teenagers are very visually focused,” said Anderson. “They don’t really need words to express much and Instagram is very simple in that way, it’s very visually appealing.”

That appeal triggered one of the biggest buys in Facebook history.

Last April, Facebook, the most popular social network on the planet, purchased Instagram for about $1 billion in cash and stocks, according to the New York Times’ Deal Book.

While Instagram is loved by many, it lacks a few key components that keep social networkers happy.

“I prefer Facebook over Instagram,” said Tafoya. “I think I like Facebook better because if you don’t have a picture you can still post something that you are feeling.

“I can still follow some of my family members that I don’t get to see very often because of their words, not just their pictures.”

Next week, Generation Update will handle the professional world of LinkedIn, a social network designed for employers and potential employees to connect in a digital business world.


Twitter observes smaller generation gap in modern Twitosphere

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Last week, Generation Update discussed the generation gap in Facebook and found that one was not as apparent as was previously thought.

This week, the focus is Twitter. How can information be spread all over the world in 140 characters or less? Twitter has the answer. Since its birth in 2006, Twitter has amassed 500 million users, making it the second-most populated social network, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings.

The Pew Research Center did a survey recently and found that 30 percent of those aged 18-29 have a Twitter account and 17 percent of those aged 30-49 had one as well.

“From what I’ve been able to understand, Twitter is a message processing application…that caters to the short attention span and poor spelling and grammar skills of the modern citizen of the world,” said  Jeff Mays, a 45-year-old from Redlands, Calif. “The purpose of Twitter seems to be to nurture mankind’s need to be social.”

Mays does not have a Twitter account, nor does he plan on getting one.

“I don’t have a Twitter…because I already get all of the entertainment that I have time for,” Mays said. “Also, I don’t have anything that interesting to say to the world, nor do I have an audience that would be interested if I did.”

Samantha Russell, a 19-year-old from Riverside, Calif., believes that Twitter is just a small part of a larger picture.

“People are obsessed with the idea of social media these days,” said Russell. “They have a desire to let everyone know what is going on in their lives and Twitter is another outlet for them to do that.”

Russell does not have a Twitter account either and has mixed feelings regarding if she will ever make one.

“I might, but right now, I’m fine without one,” she said.

While Twitter is popular for allowing its users to connect to each other, it has also gained popularity for allowing users to easily connect to the news.

Mark Johnson, in an article for, expressed this:

Twitter is much more than just your friends telling you about their day. It has changed the media, politics and business. Many will report they hear their news first on Twitter- stories of natural disasters, sports scores, the death of a celebrity and more are shared first on Twitter.

Both Mays and Russell have found other ways to learn about the latest news in the world. Russell gets her daily news “mostly [from] CNN’s website.”

Mays, on the other hand, relies more on his spouse.

“I get updates on the news from my wife,” Mays said. “Otherwise, I don’t pay attention to the news anymore.”

A study from the Pew Research Center in 2012 suggested that only 9 percent of Americans got their news from Facebook or Twitter last year. The same study showed that of those individuals, 36 percent saw news posts from other family members while 27 percent saw the news tweets from actual news organizations or journalists.

Is fast news the only positive thing to come out of Twitter?

Just last week, a business executive posted a tweet that wound up getting him fired. The tweet can be seen here, but be warned — some of the language in the tweet is extremely explicit. That executive was far from the first and certainly won’t be the last individual who has lost a job in under 140 characters.

A November 2012 study from the Family Online Safety Institute suggested that 43 percent of teenagers have posted something online they later regretted, though 95 percent of teens feel safe online.

“[Twitter] has its perks, like allowing people to stay connected with each other,” said Russell. “But, it also has its negative aspects, like the fact that it can decrease the quality of our face-to-face relationships.”

Mays believes that Twitter “helps in some way to satisfy the tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that states humans have a need for a sense of belonging.”

In many senses, Russell and Mays are in agreement as to their overall opinion of the website. Statistically, a generation gap is not evident. Many people are in agreement that they have Twitter accounts for the same reasons: to follow celebrities or follow the news.

Statistic Brain found that 40 percent of people with a Twitter account don’t use the account for anything more than to watch other people tweet.

Next week, Generation Update will go behind the lens and visit Instagram, a social media site that focuses solely on pictures. Perhaps here, in the age of the iPhone where taking pictures is as easy as sliding to the next screen, a generation gap will finally exist.

Facebook uses ability to connect to narrow generation gap

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

The social network Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. With over 1.15 billion users, Facebook has more users than the United States has citizens — more than three times over.

According to Digital Marketing Ramblings, about 699 million people log in to Facebook every day, where they spend an average of twenty minutes per visit on the website.

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that in February 2013, 86 percent of those aged 18-29 were on Facebook. A reasonably high number, but one that might have been expected. However, the same study found that 73 percent of the demographic aged 30-49 were on the social network and 35 percent of Americans aged over 65 years had a Facebook account.

Statistics and numbers are one thing, but many users on Facebook have various reasons for using the social network.

Karla Martinez is a 19-year-old student at Northern Arizona University. She didn’t create a Facebook account until the summer between her junior and senior year of high school. While she admits she succumbed to the peer pressure of being on Facebook, the more important reason she made an account was “because I knew I was going to be graduating soon [and] I wanted to keep in contact with my friends once we were in college.”

Facebook got its start with college students like Martinez. Originally intended to help students at Harvard University connect with each other, the website saw 1,200 Harvard students create a profile within the first 24 hours of Facebook’s existence. By February 2004, one month after its birth, half of the undergraduate population at Harvard had a Facebook, according to Social Media Today.

Six months later, the website had hit 30 campuses across the nation with 150,000 registered students. By December 2004, days before its first birthday, Facebook had reached one million users, according to Social Media Today.

In September 2005, high school student in the United States were allowed to join Facebook, which is where the website took off on a global scale. The next month, college students in the United Kingdom began creating accounts. Other nations and continents followed suit and in October 2012, less than a decade after it was created, Facebook reached a billion users, according to Social Media Today.

Users like Martinez enjoy connecting with current friends while others use the network to connect to friends from the past.

Brenda Avalos, a 39-year old from Phoenix, said that at first, the only reason she created a Facebook was to connect with a friend from Louisiana four years ago.

“I had never had anything like social media before Facebook,” Avalos said. “I think…it’s good that you can reconnect with people, people you normally would not be able to keep up with and talk to.”

Avalos said that she checks her Facebook about three times a day, but mostly only to update her status and upload pictures of her child as opposed to reading the statuses of other friends on her news feed.

Martinez also said that her Facebook is primarily used to put her own statuses up rather than see what everyone else has to say.

“It’s more so for pictures,” Martinez said. “Whenever…[I] hang out with friends, everyone always wants to be tagged in pictures, so it’s a place to keep my pictures.”

So do people in different age groups use Facebook differently than those in other generations?

“Definitely,” said Martinez. “I think people in their thirties and forties use it more so to keep in contact with their friends and family as opposed to our generation…they use it more for credibility…almost like an ego-boost.”

Avalos, for the most-part, agreed.

“I think that teenagers, for example, use it more to gossip than find information,” said Avalos. “As far as adults are concerned, it depends on the adult. Some adults are still like kids…they use it…to be immature, but the working adult uses it to be more professional.”

Avalos also offered some advice about some of the negatives of the social network.

“Anything you put on [Facebook] is out there,” said Avalos. “What’s out there is out there, no matter if you delete it…kids don’t know when they sign up that when they sign up it’s a contract stating that ‘your personal information is no longer personal and the pictures that you put up are no longer yours’, they are theirs too.”

Combined, Martinez and Avalos make up a very small part of the largest social network on the planet, but their insight revealed that a generation gap is not as evident in Facebook as with other social networks. Though two decades apart, Martinez and Avalos use Facebook for the same relative reasons.

An article on said that 70 percent of Facebook users use the website to connect with family and friends, just as Martinez and Avalos do. Digital Marketing Ramblings found that there have been a total of 150 billion total Facebook friend connections since the website started.

Twitter and its many tweets may prove to be a different story. Next week, Generation Update will check out the second-most popular social network on the web right now. Perhaps there, a generation gap will be more evident.

Does a social media generation gap really exist?

The second generation of the second millennium is unique from any other in history in the sense that most of its members do not remember a world without social media and the World Wide Web.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, many members of Generation X and the early bloomers of Generation Y, have had to adapt to a new world of social networking. In some cases, the new generation knows more about the technology of computers and their contents than the old generation.

The most popular social network in the world is currently Facebook, with over 1.15 billion total users, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings. To put that number into perspective, it means that about one in every seven people in the world has a Facebook.

The social network called Twitter has seen 170 billion tweets in its seven-year history, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings. Some are from celebrities, some are from teenagers, some are from employers and employees; but all of them are sent out with intent and a purpose. That intent may be dependent upon the age group of the user and Generation Update is curious to find out why.

However, many users have very different intentions when using these websites. For example, some use them to connect with their present friends while others use them to connect with friends from the past. Is this linked to a generation gap or is it something else?

Over the next five weeks, this blog will analyze five different social networks and discover how individuals of different age groups use social media and what their intent is when using it.

Check back in next week to see how members of different generations use Facebook.