Black Teens and Social Media

Published On July 10, 2014 | By Tom Huskerson | Now You Know
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Black teens and social media; are they different than white teens?  Research indicates that may be so. Teenagers love social media. Whether its Facebook, Instagram or any of the other social media sites black teen flock there to share their lives and interests with friends and family. But new study indicate that teenagers selection of social media websites is becoming a black or white choice.

The Pew Internet & American Life project report, “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy,” found that young people of all races and backgrounds are engaging in social-media activities in ever growing numbers. These teens are sharing more personal information on their digital profiles than ever before. But a breakdown of the data reveals some surprising trends. 

For example, black teenagers are not as likely to reveal their real names on their social-media profiles. According to Pew 95% percent of white teens on social media use their real name whereas only 77% of black teens do this.

Jasmine Bullock said;“I’ve found this to be true.’ Bullock is the Coordinator for Youth Programs at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. “A lot of it has to do with image, and what they want people to perceive of them in social media.” Bullock also says students could be using fake identities to “cover things up” from parents, teachers and other authority figures who may be monitoring their activity on social-media.

When it comes to celebrity connections white teens are not as likely to be social friends with celebrities, athletes or musicians. While 48%  of black teens using social media report celebrity friends only 25% of white teens do.

Najah Goldstein a freelance reporter for Radio states; “African-American youth are more connected to pop culture. Look at who they emulate—Beyoncé, Rihanna and others.” She explains that its “cool”, for black teens to have a celebrity “friend” or to have a celebrity re-tweet a message they’ve sent to them.

Twitter has become extremely popular among African-Amereicans and is the preferred social network for black teens. Compared to white teens 39% of African-American teens reported using Twitter compared to only 23% of white teens.

Goldstein attributes the popularity of Twitter among black teens teens to language. “With Twitter, they don’t have to say as much,” using only 140 characters to send a message or Tweet. Bullock believes it’s probably just an emerging preference among all teens who are up on the latest social media trends. “Who wants to be using the latest thing?” Focus groups conducted by Pew researchers  show teens expressed “waning enthusiasm for Facebook.” Teens cited the increasing number of adults on the site and being “drained by the drama”  occurring daily on the site. But these same teens admitted they felt the need to stay on Facebook in order not to “miss out.”

The study indicates that black teens maybe more deceptive on social media. Not only are they less likely to use their real name but African-American teens are also more likely to post false information to their profiles.  Black teens admit posting false information 39% to white teens 21%.

Are black teens hiding things from parents and adults? The research indicates this may be happening. Both Bullock and Goldstein agree that teens want “to hide information about their activities from their mothers.” Bullock added that differences in social media website’s registration processes is a potential a factor: “They are just answering questions to get through being able to post pictures and posts.”

The Pew study uncovered some interesting racial preferences among teens using social media. Both Bullock and Goldstein told DiversityInc that it’s important for parents to monitor what their children are doing online. Social media continues to grow as a way to communicate directly with their children. As teens grow older,both black and white, what they post online can be potentially harmful to their aspirations. Social media is being monitored by universities, employers, and even banks and insurance companies. As a matter of fact there is a whole industry growing around social media. Companies are appearing that not only research social media but some claim to clean up bad social media information for a price.

Now you know.

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About The Author

Tom Huskerson Bio Born in Richmond Virginia Tom Huskerson is a military veteran who settled in California after his discharge. He attended Santa Barbara City College where he began his writing career as a campus reporter. He worked as an intern news reporter for the Santa Barbara News-Press writing feature stories before moving on to San Francisco. At San Francisco State University Tom studied broadcast communications and began to focus on the Internet. He completed his graduate thesis on Internet advertising. Tom was the first student to ever focus on the Internet as a graduate student at San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to work for Zona Research in California’s Silicone Valley. As a research associate Tom supported senior analyst writing on the latest developments in the Internet industry. During the dot com boom Tom worked for several web businesses as a market researcher and analyst. As a writer and researcher Tom has authored various technical works including a training program for Charles Schwab security. Other projects included professional presentations on workplace violence and hiring security contractors. Tom has returned to focus on writing both fiction and non-fiction works and blogging for a travel website. He has published two books of short stories and completed two novels. Tom is the owner of Scribe of Life Literature and EbonyCandle. Most recently Tom has launched the blog African American Cyber Report. The blog is the result of his desire to inform the African American community of the dangers and benefits of the cyber age. In his blog Tom reports on information security, new and analysis, scams and hoaxes, legal happenings and various topics that arise from the age of information. Tom believes that technology is a necessary tool for black people and they should know what is happening. Tom writes believing that techno speak is for the professional and that valuable information can be communicated using plain language. As a result he has embraced the motto, Less Tech, More Knowledge.

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