Today we learned that the only person in the office excited about Microsoft’s Outlook updates was one of the youngest amongst us. Who can predict what the kids today will be into? More importantly for our purposes, what will the youth of tomorrow be using social tech for?
The post-millennial generation are digital natives who grow up with a smartphone and tablet in hand practically from birth. Last night I stumbled upon my 10-year-old cousin’s Instagram account and nearly had a fit — I used to work Trust & Safety issues, and most social media and apps require an age minimum of 13 to sign up.
Of course, savvy kids have been inputting different D.O.B.s since the internet began, and since I distinctly remember being a 10-year-old in AOL chatrooms, I haven’t decided if I’m going to rat out my cousin or not. Chances are her parents already know and gave approval; from what I could tell, many of her friends were on Instagram, too. But I’d like to hope that social media lessons about safety are going hand-in-hand with usage.
The truth was that my cousin’s Instagram savvy was on par with many adults — clever, interesting pictures of what she saw. We have to admit that the kids born to this stuff use it with an adeptness that those of us longer in tooth struggle to attain. More often, we’ll stubbornly stick to what we know, while the kids, tweens and teens are quick to jump to the hot new thing.
Such is the case with Snapchat, which is having an App of the Moment moment — which means it’s likely already Over. As soon as adults start to seize a space young people love, they’re quick to flee. And talk about how the upcoming presidential election will be huge on Snapchat probably means that the more you use it, the less your kids will.
So what’s next? I suspect that as soon as VR becomes a viable widespread reality, the kids will find ways to make virtual spaces all their own, incomprehensible to adults. EIC Annalee Newitz thinks that the kids may embrace outdated (for us), updated applications — maybe in 2025, Microsoft Outlook will really be the coolest thing to use, and Gmail as old hat as AOL chatrooms. What do you think is up next?