One 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:
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.
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 Tumblr. I hear many teens mention Tumblr when they talk about kids who keep online journals.
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.
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.
Vanessa Van Petten is a CNN columnist, winner of the Mom’s Choice Award and an author with Penguin Books. She travels the country speaking to all types of groups about family relationships, teen lifestyles, advertising to Net-Generation and many other issues pertaining to Gen Y. She also gives keynote and inspirational speeches. She is the author of the forthcoming “Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?”