Top Five Reasons Why Pinterest is So Popular for Teens

pinterest, pin, pinning, social media, inspiration boards, Hannah is a seventeen year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer or a psychologist one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.

In the past year, out of practically nowhere, it seems, a new website has captured the attention of both parents and teens. When I first made my Pinterest account, I only knew of ten friends who had accounts as well. However, just a few months later, that number has doubled and tripled. Teens cannot get enough of Pinterest – a website where “pins” of pictures often lead to creative websites and ideas.

Why is Pinterest suddenly so popular among teens? Although it is impossible to pinpoint an exact reason, there are five aspects of Pinterest and its community that certainly contribute to its appeal.

1. Pinterest contains an endless supply of inspiration – and ways to bring that inspiration to fruition.

Many pins on Pinterest are links to do-it-yourself projects or neat ideas. Unlike many other websites, the DIY projects often have clear directions so that teens are not left guessing. For the crafty teen, Pinterest not only offers ideas for creative endeavors, but it provides teens tried-and-true methods to eliminate guesswork.

2. Pinterest does not feel like a judgmental community.

No one wants to be judged – especially on the internet. In this respect, Pinterest seems to provide what Tumblr, Twitter, and even Facebook have not. On most popular social networking sites, teens go to great ends to keep their pages private from people they know and to make a socially appealing blog. Pinterest, however, lacking the means for anonymous hate messages and judgmental messages, has a much more accepting community. Teens can repin whatever appeals to them, without fearing judgment.

3. Pinterest is divided into easy categories.

When scrolling through a Tumblr dashboard, one can feel overwhelmed by pictures that are meaningless to them. Pinterest solves this problem with easy categories. Right from the homepage, it is easy to select a desired category, such as DIY & Crafts, Humor, Women’s Apparel, and more. Pinterest takes the guesswork out of social networking, so teens can see what they like and only that.

4. It is easy to organize pins and repins into categorized boards.

Some teens just love the organized feeling of Pinterest. When you open an account, you start by creating boards – folders to categorize pins into. These boards can have any name to suit any category. One board can hold all of a teen’s favorite makeup and hair ideas and pins, while another can display the same teen’s favorite cars. Boards allow a teen to display all their interests without seeming condescending or disorganized.

5. It is just another novelty website.

Face it, even if Pinterest were not chock full of cool ideas, a safe feeling environment, and easy categories, teens would still be hopping on the band wagon to try it out. Similar to the creation of Google +, teens create an account because a new website always seems like a new start on the internet. Even if the teens do not like it, they will often give it a chance. Luckily, in the case of Pinterest, a dislike for the website does not seem to be a problem.

Pinterest is quickly expanding, and more and more teens will continue to create accounts. Although every teen will have their own motivation for doing so, these are five of the features that have made Pinterest so irresistible.

Photo: Steve Garfield on Flickr

Why Tumblr?

Angela is a junior high school student from the OC. She loves math, writing, and reading good books. Disney and old Hollywood movies are her guilty pleasures. When she grows up, she wants to be a doctor or engineer.

tumblr, internet, trends, popular, teens, blogging, memeTumblr. No, the “e” is not supposed to be there. It’s not Facebook, nor is it quite like Twitter. It’s a blog site, now a widely popular internet trend, that has been dubbed the online center of pop culture for all who keep in touch with their inner artist, hipster…and creeper. Most skeptics, initially turned off by the website’s simple formatting, later find the act of scrolling through blog posts strangely addicting. It’s an explosion of media, an online fusion of bloggers of different backgrounds and interests, forming different cliques reminiscent of high school—except better, for Tumblr isn’t bound by the limitations of a socially-conscious high school. Inside every teenager and young adult lies an inner lunatic that desires interaction with other lunatics to obsess and contemplate over the truly important things in life: art, Doctor Who, and Darren Criss.

In all seriousness, Tumblr is basically a website where people are free to blog, or reblog from other users, various kinds of media-based content, including music, videos, pictures, text, and the commonly used GIF image. Simple. Straight-forward. Not particularly sophisticated. But why has it received such a powerful response? How it is possible for people to spend hours upon hours on this site and not get bored?

 

The thing is, Tumblr is not strictly a social network in the sense that interacting online is its main purpose. If people like your blog, they follow you. If they want to send you a message, they can type in a question in your ask box or send fan-mail. There are ways to socialize, but there are better, suitable, and more convenient ways to do so on Facebook. So one thing is for sure: a blog does not have to have a face associated with it. Hence, everyone is encouraged to be themselves. No pressure to conform. No need to feel embarrassed about your interests, because in a community so large, chances are high that others share the same interests.

 

Tumblr is like its own culture altogether. Despite having so much diversity, the community has a distinct sense of style and humor that is so easily picked up and emulated. People are individuals, but they are also part of something. That being said, Tumblr is not for everyone. Parents especially will need to be cautious about some of what the website has to offer. A few points to keep in mind:

 

1. Anyone can post anything. I do mean anything. Sex, violence, profanity…etc. It’s not uncommon to come across something you never intended to see. So how do you avoid it? The truth is, there is really no way. The Tumblr search engine is one of its weakest features and does not even attempt to filter out R-rated material. Even an innocent search can bring up twisted, perverted, and tasteless interpretations of the subject matter. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to reserve access to the website from the fifteen-and-under crowd, for now. Either this, or closely monitor the type of blogs your child follows to avoid inappropriate images from suddenly appearing on the dashboard. Of course, every teen in on a different level of maturity. If you can trust him or her to quickly scroll past explicit content, then they are ready to blog.

 

2. Cyber bullying is possible, but it can be easily prevented by un-checking the option that allows anonymous bloggers to send messages, or by disabling the “ask” setting altogether.

 

3. Without showing bias, I have to warn politically-conservative parents that Tumblr in general has a fiercely liberal atmosphere. This isn’t a huge problem, but it may be uncomfortable for those who do not want their child to be influenced by this.

 

Tumblr is not the ideal site for teenagers to surf through; mostly, it’s just a waste of time. However, Tumblr represents a way to connect and relate to others in a medium that is louder and more revealing than any spoken word. That, to us, is priceless.

 

Photo Credit: Chad Swaney from Flickr

Top 10 Outlets for Teen Interests and Cognitive Growth

Dana is a 16-year-old from San Diego, CA. Her love of reading and writing has allowed her to share the experiences and lessons that have taught her so much with countless others. She enjoys traveling to new places, dancing and cooking, and hopes that one day she will both work in the education field and become a published author.

cognitive growth, delicious, dig, documentaries, mixx, mobilize, reddit, stumbleupon, teen cognitive growth, teen hobbies, teen interests, teensreadtoo, tumblr, veegleParents know that the best ways for teens to expand their knowledge and develop skills particular to their interests and hobbies, whether it be books or sports, is through methods teens themselves are interested in. Like a grumpy student who refuses to do their homework when they are assigned mere busy-work, thrusting a magazine in front of your teen’s face may not be the best way to get them to explore his or her interest. What a parent should realize, however, is that for the son who loves speech and debate, he frequently visits politico.com, and for the budding entertainer, Metacritic.com is her daily go-to website during her free time.

Below are the top 10 outlets teens spend their time exploring for fun, as they retain valuable knowledge on a variety of interests ranging from calligraphy to photography, boosting their cognitive growth in the process.

Top 10 Passion/Interest Boosters:

1) StumbleUpon – With a click of the “StumbleUpon” button, articles, clips, photos, current news, etc. on any chosen interest instantly appear. Writing, yoga, photography, and science are just some of the plethora of selectable interests, providing teens with random, but valuable outside knowledge necessary for success in high school and every-day life.

2) Digg – A website featuring top news stories and video clips on a variety of topics such as technology, politics, business, and world events – a much more fun version of BBC News and other traditional news sites.

3) Documentaries – Going to the local library and borrowing a documentary is a great way for teens to gain insight on their interests.

4) Delicious – Like StumbleUpon, Delicious is another online outlet that helps teens to find cool stuff on any of their chosen interests.

5) Mobilize.org – With teen writers posting their own blogs, Mobilize discusses current events dealing with the Millennial generation, social issues, and politics, calling them to take action.

6) TeensReadToo – A fun way for teens to check out the latest titles in literature.

7) Reddit – A great online source to read circulating news on new and popular topics.

8) Mixx – Also an innovative way to follow, share, and organize personal interests and read articles about them online.

9) Following a WordPress/Tumblr blog – Following a blog pertaining to a teen’s interest is a lot of fun and an appealing way for teens to get insight on their interests. From blogs about books to recipes, and even personal perspectives on political events, following a useful, informative blog is worth the time they spend following their friend’s tumblr.

10) Veegle – Intellectually stimulating, Veegle provides facts on certain interests ranging from business, nature, to government. This site aids teens in becoming trivia-knowledgeable.

Photo Credit: Escondido Recreation from Flickr 

The FOMO Syndrome: Fear of Missing Out

texting, social life, social scene, high school, facebook, fomo

Hannah is a sixteen year old from New Jersey. She loves to compete with color guard and marching band, and play piano. She hopes to become a writer one day, and to inspire others to follow their dreams.

As I entered High School, I immediately wanted to join an assortment of clubs and teams while I juggled an honors course load. It was not long before I realized that I could not possibly handle so many activities. However, I was afraid to quit clubs, knowing that I would miss out on a variety of incredible experiences.

As a sophomore, I started to realize that I was becoming increasingly distracted by websites like Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr, and by the numerous texts my friends would send as I calculated algebra problems and attempted to write quality essays. My mom suggested that I delete my Facebook or that I shut my phone off and block texts while busy. Gasping at her, I responded that I could not do either. I felt that someone may need my help, I may miss an important event, or I would go to school feeling “out of the loop” and confused.

Recently, my classmate was talking about her Twitter account. I asked if it was worth making one, and she told me that she wasted hours of time, but could not imagine missing the frivolous tidbits about the lives of those who she followed. As she said this, I realized that perhaps I was not the only person who feared missing out on information about the lives of others.

Urban Dictionary, a site that defines almost every piece of teenage slang available, knows about this fear too. The Fear of Missing Out Syndrome (shortened to FOMO) is said to be the fear of missing an event, not being invited to an event, or missing out on popular information. In today’s technologically advanced world, it is easy for teens to see when friends are having a get together and “forgot to invite” them, or when everyone else knew that the teen’s best friend had a fling with their long time crush – except for them. However, without technology, it is easy for one to wonder what social events and announcements he or she has been missing merely due to not being connected.

To different people, FOMO will have different effects. For me, the fear of missing out caused me to become addicted and attached to my phone and Facebook. The second I got on the bus after school, I would often browse my newsfeed for interesting stories. For some, FOMO is, in fact, quite depressing. Upon realizing that he or she has not been invited to an event, one often begins to question if their friends actually like them, if they did something wrong, or if they simply are unimportant. Yet, for others, FOMO can be encouraging. For better or for worse, FOMO can inspire people to become increasingly involved in their communities, schools, families, and friendships.

It is difficult to overcome FOMO. However, recently, I tried to take the first step. I noticed that my constant desire to be connected and “in the loop” was becoming distracting and anti-productive. With much difficulty, I deleted my Tumblr, and put my phone on silent as I did homework. As I drew pages of sine and cosine graphs, I shut off my internet, although I allowed myself a Facebook break after every few pages. Although these efforts to stay out of the loop may sound miniscule, I believe that they are progress in my struggle, and the struggle of millions of teens, to increase productivity and fight the fear of missing out.

Virtual Worlds: The Best Ones, When Do You Grow Out of One and Into Another

Shaira currently lives in Riverside, CA, loves kitschy, quirky finds, and wants to be an entrepreneur.

 

You go from being a teeny bopper in Tiger Beat to an aspiring teenager in Seventeen to a woman in Cosmopolitan. When you are born you wear Gymboree then you begin school with Limited Too to wearing short shorts and low cut tops from Hollister to being presentable for an interview being classy yet chic in Ann Taylor. From the comic sections on the newspaper to actually reading the newspaper, cartoons and then shows about people and their lives. We grow older, our interests change and we find ourselves doing things we thought we should never do or understand and once we grow older we do things that we think younger people should never do or understand.

The Virtual World is its own place; here is a list of popular websites based on interests and demographics.

Fashion:

StarDoll.com: You see the gaming cards in grocery stores and in best buy, stardoll is the most popular dress-up website out there

Girlsense.com: This site is a dream for girls who just love fashion and fantasizes about owning a line and having their own boutique. Here you can design fashions and accessories with its editor and design your storefront in your own boutique. You can also sell your virtual clothes with the site’s currencies and buy new pixilated clothes to bedazzle even more.

Now suppose the little fashionista grows up.

Polyvore.com: In here you can create sets of clothes and pictures compiled together making it look like a page in a magazine. You will find out about the newest brands, trends, and celebrities.

TeenVogue.com: Like the magazine? Here’s the website to go to. It has everything to keep you updates with beauty and trends.

Chats and Avatars:

ClubPenguin.com: Games and you get to be a virtual penguin and waddle around and pretend with like a million other kids. It’s like the cleanest and safest place on the web, everyone there is like an internet police and they encourage you to be an internet police-slash-snitch so it’s impossible to curse with their filters even if you get creative with it plus if you make something with a slight inappropriate undertone, hah good luck on the ban.

Neopets.com: Ah, we all grew up with neopets. You get a virtual pet. You can a virtual pet for your virtual pet. You can buy foods, toys, and clothes. You can play games, battle, and have a virtual home. You can even buy and sell and mess around with the stock market.

Now the kids are more interested in having a second set of friends on the internet!

GaiaOnline: You have your own avatar you get to dress up as creatively as you like. You get to go around in town or go on forums to chat.

Roliana.com: Like GaiaOnline

Games:

Addictinggames.com, Kongregate.com, and armorgames.com: Has extremely fun free non-downloadable online flash games. You burn so much time there without realizing it.

Now for the people who are really interested in video games and aren’t just ‘casual gamers’ there are mmorpgs (mass multiplayer online role playing game) All of them you have to download, some you have to pay, some are free. There are a lot out there and could be found easily through the power of google.

World of Warcraft: Most popular one, your son, nephew, cousin, brother, or even your husband or anyone you know has probably played this.

Maple Story: Extremely cute game with cute monsters and cute graphics. It’s 2d and you can do a lot of things there like fight, dress up, chat, and get married.

Art:

Deviantart.com: A place to post your art and let the world see and comment. You can even sell it. A good graduation from finger painting.

Funny, interesting miscellaneous websites:
All funny an clever and a good read, *warning* might be clean to very raunchy though.

Dearblankpleaseblank.com
Fmylife.com
Textsfromlastnight.com
collegehumor.com

Popular Websites:
Can’t have a list of good sites to go to without the ones everyone goes to

Facebook.com
Tumblr.com
Twitter.com
Youtube.com

Public e-Journals: Why Teens Love to Share All

e-journals, online diary, photo sharing, evertale, facebook, flickr, tumblr, bloggingOne of the questions I ask my teen interns during the interview process is:

“What are some teen behavioral trends? Do you see you or other teenagers doing something that is a new behavior for your age group?”

This is where I hear about all kinds of interesting trends before they reach the mainstream–like teen biting, SillyBandz and Nutmeg highs. Recently I have been hearing a lot about online or public forum journaling. With the advent of many new online tools, teens are becoming more nostalgic and want to not only share all parts of their lives, but also document and save them for the future. Here are a few different sites that help users document and share their personal lives online:

1. Evertale

Evertale is a digital scrapbook of your real life, and it does this by writing itself through your mobile phone updates. Evertale uses your phone’s locations, meetings, music and calendar events to create a digital scrapbook of your life automatically.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6VKxOvSKY0[/youtube]

2. Tumblr

Tumblr is a free blog hosting platform where users can upload, tag and save photos, music, diary entries, videos…you name it you can save it on Tunblr. I hear many teens mention Tumblr when they talk about kids who keep online journals.

3. Facebook

Duh. Teens use Facebook to store, share and save pictures. Many teens have told me that their Facebook is like their parent’s hall entryway–they have all of their most important pictures to show visitors.

4. Flickr

Flickr is a photo sharing and photo management website. Many teens who are avid photo takers and not huge writers love using Flickr to keep track of their photos.

The real question that many parents ask me is: “Why do teens feel the need to journal in public? What happened to a good old fashioned leather-bound journal with a lock and key?” First, many teens do feel that by adding some privacy features to their Facebook or Tumblr they are having a virtual lock and key. They feel this is private enough. Second, many teens feel they are actually maintaining their memories by documenting their thoughts, ideas and activities. Even I am not sure I will ever have ‘real life’ photo albums as it is easier to put everything online. Last, there is an aspect of public display. If teens do something cool, are dating someone hot or want to impress someone else putting pictures up in a semi-public forum is a great way to show off a bit.

I think it is really important for adults to see both sides of the public e-journal trend. On the one hand, it is great teens feel proud of themselves and their friends are documenting their lives for their grandchildren. On the other hand, there is a fine line between sharing the right amount of information and sharing too much information. I hope that we can talk to our kids about what is appropriate for them to share and what is not.

Photo: The Italian Voice from Flickr

TUMBLR

Gema is a 20-year old from Miami, FL. Reads like a maniac. Writes for sanity. It’s a fine line and she loves erasing it.

Let me introduce you to my latest obsession: Tumblr. It’s a social network where you can share anything: text, pictures, quotes, videos, and music. It doesn’t have the 140-character limitation of Twitter or visually dull limitations of Facebook. While those two popular social networks are mostly about the meat of the message, Tumblr has more flare. It’s the space of .gif and Photoshop galore. Creative minds have found an outlet for the little doodles that are inspired by a stray song lyric or a hilarious scene in a television show or anywhere. Following blogs is easy, since they are organized in one place (the “dashboard”) and is read in chronological order. It’s deliciously addicting that way. Whenever I log in for about fifteen minutes, time swallows up the seconds and spits them back out two hours later. All the time is spent scrolling, laughing and reblogging.

 

In my opinion, reblogging is the most unique feature in Tumblr. Instead of linking posts of interests for friends to maybe click, they are reposted on the dashboard for my followers. It’s in the vein of Twitter’s retweets, except that I don’t have to worry about the character limit. I can add my own comments below them the post as well as anyone that reposts it. It becomes a thread then, with comments and .gifs to express feelings that have no words. Sharing is as fun as creating and posting your own content. Tumblr encourages scavenging other blogs for creative gold. It’s easier to find people with similar interests. When there are thousands of people searching for similar content and reblogging that content and adding comments, they are bound to bump into each other in cyberspace every now and then. I’ve been able to geek out with Harry Potter, Mortal Instrument, and Hunger Games fandom. I’ve met new nerdfighters just by searching the name.

 

This cyberspace utopia does have its flaws, though. The site goes down every few days for several minutes. If you have my luck, it’ll be just as you reblog or post something. It occurs so often that there’s an ongoing joke about “Tumblr Beasts” (or just Tumbeasts) gnawing through the system because Tumblr forgot to feed it again. So while it goes down often, you can always expect the users to find a humorous spin and a well edited graphic to go along with it.

 

Another, perhaps more serious, flaw that I’ve encountered should be considered if you have children thirteen or younger. Like in any social network, the things that are found are not always suitable for children. I’ve seen it more on Tumblr than on Twitter or Facebook, but that’s just because it’s such a graphic network. If you type it in the search box, or if someone you follow happens to reblog it, you can find nude pictures, pornographic .gifs. But even then, I don’t think this is as bad as something else I’ve found. Thinspiration. The magic of Tumblr is that you hardly have to click anything unless you want to reblog. If you scroll to the end of a page, the next page unfolds beneath it and all you have to do is scroll for hours. There are a lot of girls that type in things to the like of “weight loss, thinspo, thispiration” and embark on a journey of pictures of skinny girls and graphics that promote not eating and put down those who don’t have the self-control to stop eating. If you scroll down long enough, the pictures and the mantras actually start to sound normal. I’m not sure that’s something that should be blamed solely on Tumblr, though. Just a couple of months ago, there was a Twitter account that promoted the same thing. Tumblr can spread ideas, which is great! But sometimes those ideas are unhealthy, and that in the power of such an addicting site can be dangerous. So if you have a young child, be cautious. Not just with Tumblr, but with every site.

 

Share Your Pictures, Not Just Your Thoughts

Mike is a 17-year-old from Chicago, IL. He enjoys eccentric individuals, playing with computers and hopes to one day dominate the radio airwaves.

Facebook.  Twitter.  Tumblr.  YouTube.  Teens like to share what’s going on in their lives.  A lot of today’s sharing is done not only with text, but also with visual mediums such as with pictures and video.  Personally, I enjoy uploading and sharing pictures to Twitter and Facebook whenever I’m out at an event.  Attaching pictures to short Facebook posts adds more meaning to what’s really going on, and it allows for easier commenting and discussion.  Lately, I’ve being seeing more and more of my Facebook friends uploading pictures from their mobile phones, making Facebook a whole lot more interesting to browse through.  Teens aren’t just uploading photos on their phones though, they are editing them too.  Here’s a few of the major examples:

 

Sharing

1.       Pixelpipe – For a majority of cell phones, even if they don’t fall into the “smart” category, Pixelpipe is a solid option that allows users to share photos and video to an endless number of social media websites.  If you happen to have an iPhone or an Android based phone, dedicated apps exist that streamline the process of sharing your mobile content with the world.

2.       Facebook Mobile – If you happen to own a smart phone, the Facebook mobile app is perfect for sharing content while on the go.

3.       Instagram – This website / mobile sharing platform has hit pretty hard recently.  This platform allows users to snap pictures and give them an old timey look before uploading to show their friends.

 

Editing

1.       Photoshop Express – Existing for both the iPhone and Android platforms, Photoshop Express allows users to professionally edit photos right on their phone.

2.       PicSay – Strictly for the Android platform, PicSay and PicSay pro allow users make fun edits on their photos and then share to their friends.

 

The problem with covering anything regarding mobile photo apps is that there are literally hundreds in existence.  I listed a few of my favorite above, but users are best off doing a search in their respective app stores or on Google to find the platform that is best for them.   Sharing apps and video as well as mobile editing is a fairly recent craze that is really catching on with the younger crowd.  It’s a fun way to show your friends what’s on your mind instead of simply telling them.