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The not-so-secret Internet diary of a Gen Z teenage girl

In this guest post my 16-year old daughter shares her views on brand, media, the Internet and life itself. She wrote it during a week of work experience in media-land last week. It’s not all rose-tinted Instagram.

By Ellie Waddington

not-so-secret

SnapChat with emotion

snapchatI use Snapchat to talk to friends almost as much as I talk to them face-to-face. It’s a good way to add expression to an online conversation whereas it’s harder to do that over text or messenger.

I prefer using it to talk to close friends, who really don’t care what I look like. But it’s harder using it to talk to someone you don’t know as well, especially if it’s a boy, because you feel like you have to make an effort to look acceptable in the photos.

This is when SnapChat direct message comes in handy because if you’re not feeling like sitting and posing every time someone SnapChats you, you can message them instead.

Instagram is art

instragramInstagram is one of my favourite forms of social media and the most popular among my peer group.
It allows you to post one good quality image from a party or day out, instead of posting hundreds of shots that no one really wants to see.

The apparent lack of advertising allows it to stand out from other social media sites such as Facebook because almost all of the content you come across is personal, as opposed to the hundreds of sponsored posts and spam videos that you have to trawl through on Facebook.

Instagram’s turned into an art-form. People I know time their posts to maximise likes or only post photos that fit a particularly theme or colour scheme.

I tend to post whatever and whenever but I’m regularly told off by friends for my account looking messy and unorganised.

Facebook grazing

facebookWhile I don’t mind having a quick look down my newsfeed and maybe liking the odd post, I would never post anything on Facebook myself.

This is probably because the chance of my post being seen by people on my Facebook is minimal, added to this, the recent addition of time hop to my feed has made me cringe at posts that I thought were cool at 13.

I’ll almost certainly feel the same about anything I post today when it reappears in two or three years’ time.

Bitchy Twitter rants

twitterI bowed to peer pressure and joined Twitter but I’ve yet to write my first tweet or even do my first retweet.

I worry that what I write isn’t interesting enough because unlike Instagram, it’s all down to the words. My words.

Some of my friends have private Twitter accounts, sometimes more than one, and use them to post bitchy anonymous rants.

Television events and catch-up

iplayerDespite the introduction of catch-up TV and Netflix, I always like to sit down in front of the TV in the evening.

I like the fact that the family can sit together and watch the same thing and it’s also such a good way to unwind at the end of the day.

Saying that, I use catch-up apps like iPlayer to download programs for journeys and who doesn’t love a Netflix day?

Dodgy music downloads but not me

spotifyI’m subscribed to ad-free Spotify and I love it because it allows you to access all genres of music.

Although I have some songs from iTunes on my iPhone, they take up way too much space and I usually end up with the same ones for ages because I haven’t got round to updating them.

Also, why would you pay for a song that you can stream for free? I guess that Apple has figured this out now.

I don’t use illegal downloading sites purely because my conscience gets in the way. I always have a niggling feeling of doing something wrong when I’m listening to them, however, the majority of my friends use them daily.

News is SnapChat

I’ve recently discovered the new feature on Snapchat which allows you to view relevant new stories daily, in a compact, SnapChat type form.

I rarely read the newspaper. However, I do watch the news on TV sometimes and I’ll have a look online. The morning news is also often on the radio over breakfast at home.

My guilty pleasure is Grazia on a Sunday after I finish working at a tea shop near home.

I love looking at the fashion pages to get ideas and Grazia also print more serious stories that have slightly more depth than your average fashion/gossip magazine. However, saying that, I can’t resist a bit of celebrity gossip.

Brands that cut through

My favourite brand is Benefit, the make-up company.

Its brightly coloured, vintage-esque packaging makes them stand out from other makeup brands. It’s a step up from drug store products, without being outrageously overpriced like many other high-end brands.

I also adore ASOS and regularly order clothes online. I like how it’s a mix of high street and high end products so there’s something for everyone. The website’s really clear and easy to use compared to other online clothing stores.

Challenge for brands, media and life itself

The Internet fuels teenage angst and insecurity.

The absolute worst thing you could say to a teenager would be ‘teenagers nowadays have it so easy’ or ‘your teenage years will be the best years of your life’.

It’s simply wrong.

Yes we have the Internet at our fingertips, any problem can instantly be solved or addressed by a simple Google search, but we have the added pressures of cyber bullying and online hate.

Bullying when you were a teenager probably consisted of shouting names and stealing your lunch money.

Now bullying is a constant stream of online abuse that is facilitated by sites such as Ask.fm which allows anyone to post anonymously on your page.

You used to just have to deal with comparing yourself to models or celebrities in the magazines and newspapers, the addition of social media such as Instagram has meant we now have to deal with comparing our lives to our peers.

Instagram is a rose-tinted snapshot of life but it doesn’t stop you from thinking, why don’t I look like that? Why wasn’t I invited to that party? How come my life’s not that interesting?

It fuels insecurity. No one seems to be trying to deal with these problems in a meaningful way.

We want to make a difference

ellie

I’m not that optimistic about the world I’m afraid.

We have a terrorist attack almost weekly at the moment. On Friday we had a minutes silence in the UK for the 30 British victims of the Tunisian attack.

Although I know there is very little we can do to tackle this problem, it’s almost like we are sitting back and waiting for the next one to happen.

Then there’s the gender issue.

It’s 2015 and women aren’t treated as equals to men. They’re paid less, don’t have the same employment opportunities and they shoulder the majority of the responsibility for raising children.

We should be doing a lot more to tackle climate change, we need to accept that it’s a huge issue that will have a massive effect on how we live unless we do something.

Here’s my question. How can brands, organisations and governments show us they care and use online media and platforms to engage teens to address these wider issues together?

Despite the stereotypes teenagers actually do care. You were one yourself once.

Future generation?

If you’re a teenager and would like to share your views via a guest post please get in touch or leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

About Ellie Waddington

ellieEllie is a student at The King Edward VI School (KEVI), Morpeth and is waiting for her GCSE results. She lives near Rothbury in Northumberland, UK. You’ll find her, and her dog Lola, on Instagram @elliew77.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

92 Comments

  1. Cracking post, so many pertinent issues. The bit about watching TV as a family (even if it’s streamed or recorded content) echoed a conversation I had last week about the future of the BBC. Also great to see you highlighting gender equality. With young women like you ahead of her I have more confidence for my eight year old daughter’s future.

    • Thanks. Appreciate you comments. On the gender stuff we’re reaching the point were young women, and some men, think its wholly unacceptable.

  2. Insightful and thoughtful post HT Ellie. Nice work.
    Your comments about Facebook and Twitter of particular interest to me as I spent a lot of time talking about how best to communicate with students. Admittedly they are a little old than you are but v similar patterns abt where they get their news, who they chat to and so on.
    Maybe this should be a regular guest spot?

    • Hi Laura – Thanks for your comments. I’d love to hear other points of view, particularly a male perspective, if you know anyone that would like to contribute a post. I’m also going to ask Ellie to write more for sure. Thanks, Stephen

  3. Hi Wadds. I have a question for Ellie, if you’re OK with that and if she’d be interested in answering?

    As she says, she uses Snapchat a lot for the reasons she outlines. I’d ‘assume’ that she therefore uses messaging apps (what’s app/FB messenger/whatever) as a primary form of communication with friends. The question is this: how often do she and her friends share or talk about ‘stuff that brands do’ (ie marketing) through those private apps?

    There’s a reason for me asking this, which is a hunch more than anything, which I’ll follow up with.

    Thanks.

  4. Great blog post Ellie. I found your comments on television and catch up very intrighuing. The BBC Trust are debating moving BBC3 online next year. It’s interesting to read you’re happy to sit in front of a TV with your family. This is interesting as the BBC Trust believe most young people want to/or only watch TV online.

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