It's a social world out there.

Socialization by generation.

Posted on: November 22, 2009

Social media is utilized by a large percent of almost every generation. However, the ways generations use social media outlets varies greatly.  Adults have adopted the internet and social media for very different reasons than teenagers. The needs for social media are almost polar opposites for the two groups.  Each uses and learns social media tools differently.  Where teens are more likely to just try something, adults are more likely to ask around or research what sites to use.  Teens and young adults have learned many technologies by trial and error, while adults are often afraid to mess up or even break something when learning online.  However, adults have certainly not been afraid to take on many social media outlets, they have just chosen to do so based on different things.

According to an emarketer article around age variation in social media use, “Sizable percentages of every age group wanted to keep in touch with friends, have fun or stay in contact with family, or had been invited by someone they knew. The youngest users were most likely to be interested in fun and friends, while family contact appealed more to older social networkers.”  (1)

Here, at the left you can see how emarketer findings on the social media use by generation. (1) This shows that Baby Boomers those now ages 45-63, account for a large amount of social media and networking use.  This group is choosing to use social media mainly for professional development and to keep in contact with family and friends.  I would suggest this group is less likely to seek out new friends through social media, unless they do so through relationship sites like eharmony and

These statistics clearly show that teens don’t have social media sites like LinkedIn on their radar, they account for 0% of its use.  This group is using sites like Facebook and MySpace to talk to friends from school, make new friends – through friends.  Young people are less cautious when using social networking sites. They accept many people that they have never met, they chat with acquaintances.  Adults are much less likely to be doing these kinds of things online, knowing the risks.

Many adults realize the importance of maintaining a professional demeanor online, especially on these social networking sites, this is something they must share.  Education today must incorporate the teaching of social media.  Social media use is not something that can ignored.  Teachers must learn the sites, what is ok and what is not.  It cannot be assume that kids will learn these lesson early enough, they need to know the dangers, as well as benefits of all social networking.

Social media is certainly consumed differently based on age.  While older generations choose the medium for different reasons, they are no less involved. As teen grow, it is very likely we will see a shift in this data, as these young people who have grown up with the internet and social media will incorporate it into their adults lives differently than adults in 2009.  I can only imagine what I will be using social media for in ten years, but I know one thing, I am excited to find out.

1)How the Old, the Young and Everyone in Between Uses Social Networks – eMarketer . (2009, July 30). Market research & statistics: Internet marketing, advertising & demographics – eMarketer . Retrieved November 22, 2009, from


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