Old Man Facebook

I’ve been meaning to share this since I read it a week ago. It’s a report on current social media usage based on age and gender.

Perhaps the least surprising revelation is that Facebook is “old” (at least in the media sense).  Two-thirds of its users are over the age of 35.  It’s a little better for Twitter, but not by much.  Just over half of its users are over 35 years.

Compared to sites like deviantART and Hacker News, the scope of Facebook’s age is even more startling.  Both are dominated by the under 35 crowd.  About 70% of the users of each are from this key demographic.  When calculated by average age, the figures are a little less startling, but not much different overall.

The report came to me via the Twitter feed of Bryan Alexander, who is (for me) an almost magical provider of thought-provoking resources for the higher education professional interested in technology.  (His “professional” blog is a good place to check him out, too.)  Like Bryan, I am profoundly interested in how young people use technology.  They are, after all, the people I try to reach in my classes and (often) in my writing.  How they use social media and interact with one another are important for me to know as I evolve in the ways I integrate social media and other technological tools into my teaching.

But what do we make of this kind of data?

Undoubtedly, we are coming to a time when the average college student is going to see a college or university Facebook page or Twitter feed as about as cutting edge as the use of computers on campus. In fact, we may already be there. This makes it hard to be current, or “hip” in the parlance of yesteryear, but that is not the primary concern for me now.

As teachers and as researchers the challenges are huge and also largely unacknowledged.  We are moving to a time when physical colleges and universities and face-to-face teaching are becoming a niche.  This is sad, and bad, and a sign of our jacked up priorities, but it is so.  Our effectiveness as teachers (whether online or in person) already relies on our ability to speak in the forum of our times.  But that forum has been changing. And it still is.

Where will it all be in another 5 years?

Check out the entire study here.

3 thoughts on “Old Man Facebook

  1. My gut tells me social media will be a constant. People use the internet to interact with other people, and younger folks especially. But I’m not so sure that their usage will point higher ed folks to using one platform of interaction. I think Facebook is already moving from being a thing that is useful because they all use it and into a thing that is useful because they all know it and are familiar with how it presents content. I’m not sure what the kids will be doing in 5 years. If I did, I’d be a rich man!

    What do you think?

  2. I think you’re spot on about social media. As a species we same to have made that shift, cutting back the 20th-century’s broadcast giants. There’s pushback, but the shift it in.

    Beyond that – did you see my little Educause articles last year?

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