Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults.

Having just read my e.learning age magazine from cover to cover, I was struck by several articles but in particular by Richard Naish's entitled 'Keeping up with youth' and the research that carried out in 2010 to look at how younger people (under the age of 30) were changing the way they use the Internet.


Here is the link to the report Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults. The research (carried out by Pew Research Centre) which was conducted in 2010 compares with similar research carried out in 2006. I guess the question is that if younger people are changing the way they use the Internet (which is no great surprise), what are the implications and challenges for learning and development and, does this resaerch and its findings translate easily to the UK?


I have posted this a general discussion as I think it merits exactly that.


Look forward to seeing your responses.

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William, I think this is a really interesting study, thanks for posting it. I think we're moving from a view of the internet as only for youngsters and geeks (the view a decade ago) to the internet as a general tool, which will inevitable be used in different ways by different groups ... I think this has profound implications for anyone (including learning professionals) planning to use the internet for distribution.



This is certainly a thorough report, and whilst US-centric we know that in the end the US trends will swiftly reach our shores; indeed the UK is often ahead of the US in technology adoption.  There are clearly a number of movements in the various categories which is only to be expected as the user population matures.


For me, there were a number of take-away items from this research, so in no set order: 


  • Social media is massive (no surprise there) especially for younger people
  • Younger people are both connected and mobile with either laptops or phones, or both
  • Internet access for the young is ubiquitous, it’s as much of a utility as a service
  • Younger people generally don’t do Twitter, although high school girls use it twice as much as boys
  • Laptops and mobile devices have replaced the desktop,  The wired world is now wireless and mobile
  • 62% of young people get their news, politics and current affairs online – they are not wired to the TV
  • Ownership of wireless devices, laptops, smart phones etc., is very closely linked to affluence and socio-economic grouping – the poor are just not as well connected
  • Older people (as would be expected) maintain different ‘personalities’ online e.g. social (Facebook) and business (LinkedIn)


For the L&D professional I see the issues as being:


  • You can’t ignore social media; it’s the way that younger people are ‘doing business’ and will expect to do business in the future
  • Online ‘personalities’ for business and pleasure are different and don’t mix; they co-exist, but they are not bed-fellows
  • Whilst the internet is set to remain a major distribution and consumption medium, the number of consumption routes (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums, specialist sites) will almost certainly rise ensuring complexity of platform distribution and format.  In short it’ll get harder to reach everyone in the same way
  • Mobile devices are here to stay; being tethered will reduce BUT only the wealthy currently have easy access.  A distinct learning divide could appear unless distribution to poorer learners is addressed.  Care needs to be taken here with potential emergence of a learning stigma; people may not know you have free school meals but the “What do you mean, you don’t have a smart phone? Is, your poor or what?” is only a step away.


I’d also like to add some further resources (which need registering for but are free).  Hitwise has some great reports and insights into social media: and Sysomos has some good (but slightly outdated) research on the use and penetration of Twitter:



Hi William,


Excellent article and well worth sharing to the populous.


Social networks are like whispering elephants keeping audiences up-to-date with perceptions; maybe not the actual facts or truths with regards to the subject matter.  If we go back a few years with that simple interactive classroom scenario of whispering a phrase at the being of the queue, we are astounded with what comes out at the end.  There is a significant amount of learning that occurs within the workplace with the interaction and sharing of information.  But, one must be very careful with sowing the seeds of inaccurate information within a workforce via social networks, as it could be the detriment to a business or organisation.  Otherwise, organisations will exhaust revenue via change management programmes to correct these misconceptions and/or inaccuracies.


The internet has provided a venue for a significant amount of auto-didactic learning with a plethora of information to sift through - which could be perceived as advancement through the use of technology.  The only downsize is the derogation of literacy, increased plagiarism, lack of innovation and problem solving skills.  Has society become chained to their electronic devices like a hamster on a wheel or are we continuing promoting a  'McDonald's' society? 


A balance must be maintained between traditional classroom instructor led training programmes and social media mobile internet interventions.  One must be cognisant of these technological advancements and the advantages / disadvantages of introducing these types of social median within their organisation.  Only an organisation i.e. academic or business can ascertain what strategy or learning style best works for its diverse demographic audience.



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