Should Large Social Networks Give Teens Their Space Back?
- April 27th, 2009
- 6 Comments
I was thinking about how MySpace could get its groove back and began to think about teen social networking fatigue on Facebook, too, and came up with an idea that I’m sure will have its detractors. Still, I wanted to put it out there. Given Meredith’s post today on teens’ need to hang out away from parents (the initial draw for them to sites like MySpace and Facebook) as well as the reality that teens and adults are in different developmental stages of their lives (well, most adults), I would argue that there might be value in bringing back exclusively high school and college versions of Facebook and creating them on MySpace. Remember Sconex? It’s gone now, but you had to verify which high school you attended in order to sign up. Same with Facebook when it was just college students and then high school students. I think that teens and students/grads who used these services back then would argue there was value in being able to use these sites primarily to network with friends their own age and mostly friends they know in real life.
Maybe teens and college students could maintain limited profiles on the main services to keep in touch with family or other adults in their lives, but the bulk of their social activity would take place within walled-off areas that were really “their spaces.” In a way, it could function in a similar way to Teen Second Life, which is literally “teens only” except for community managers. Adults can set up islands and offer activities, but teens have to go to them vs. adults coming into their space.
From an advertising/marketing perspective, segregating by age makes monetizing these areas a lot simpler and the ads for both high school and college students a lot more relevant. Recreating these walled or gated areas for youth also keeps unwanted adults out. At-risk teens who want to flirt with strangers would have to do this on the main services—making both the teens and adults engaging in this behavior easier to identify.
Whether the high school area and the college areas would be separate is another question—my guess is that high school students would want “in” to the college areas while college students would want the high school students “out”—still it seemed to work on Facebook when they were two separate areas where a college student would have to friend a high school student to allow them access. I also think the high school area could be staffed with community managers or even peer moderators from different schools to keep an eye on bullying or other red flag behaviors that may pop up.
I know it’s a radical idea —and am curious to know your thoughts….