We Grilled Nine Teens About Their Digital Lives — And They All Groaned When Facebook Came Up

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These are not the teens from the conference.

Asked whether they were friends with their parents on Facebook, several of the teens on stage at Business Insider's Ignition 2013 conference groaned loudly. 

Stephanie Retblatt of Smarty Pants interviewed nine New York City teenagers, ages ranging from 14 to 17, about their digital lives and habits.

"I hate Facebook. It's just so boring," one teenage girl said, before declaring her sworn allegiance to Instagram.

“I used to scroll down Facebook and read every single status," another added. "Now I just love Vine.”

One young woman even confessed that her mother had more than double the amount of Facebook friends that she did.

Facebook admitted in its recent earnings report that younger teens are less active on the site than ever before, and although several of the nine teens said that they still use Facebook messenger to communicate with friends, they're increasingly turning toward other social media as well. 

One girl said that she uses Snapchat video to record messages to send to her friend, who will then immediately watch it and respond: "We just send each other videos all day long!”

Why not just use FaceTime, Retblatt asked (because heaven forbid they talk on the phone).

The girl's answer: "Because you don't always have Wi-Fi!"

The group was split pretty even between iPhone and Android.

" I only had [an Android] before I could afford an iPhone” one girl said, before one of the teen boys countered that he liked Android much better because of the customization. 

Other apps that the teens said they were obsessed with were YouTube, Netflix, Dots, Circa, Flipboard, and, strangely, Fresh Direct ("I like to let my mom know when I'm hungry"). 

The group also had strong opinions about watching TV. 

“I think cable is a complete waste of money," one girl said. "I’m sorry mom, but you’re wasting your money. I’m not ever watching TV shows, I’m just watching OnDemand. I don’t have time and I hate commercials.”

The general consensus was that OnDemand trumps watching shows as they air and that Netflix is the best (one girl confessed to binge-watching five seasons of Breaking Bad in one week). 

One surprising insight was the way that teens use their phones for schoolwork. 

"I'll tell Siri to create a memo and then just speak for 30 minutes," one boy said. Several others said that they had written major papers on their phones (sometimes completing work on the train in the morning on the way to school). 

I'd like to see an even better term paper app, one girl suggested. 

One of the final things that the teens talked about: What a 21st century Christmas list has turned into. 

"I have it all typed out with an introduction, pictures, descriptions, and labels for which family member should get me what," one girl explained.  

" This is the future of Christmas lists."



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