Facebook may have started as a collegiate trend, but we all know it has grown far beyond that in our culture today. First high school, then middle school, then the “bigger kids:” parents, aunts/uncles and even grandparents began Facebook stalking. Besides cramping some young people’s style, does this range of age groups on Facebook create any larger problems?
An article recently published by CNN explains that most pre-adolescents are getting social-media accounts, even if they do not meet the minimum age requirement. Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Institute writes that,
“There’s no effective way to age-verify … children very quickly realize, ‘I just say I’m 14 years old, and they’ll let me use this.’ “
The article cites some scientists who fear that this is compromising the attention spans of children as their brains develop and some parents are worried that their children are become prey for online predators by using social media. However, the ultimate conclusion was that there was no way to truly measure the effect of social media on children. “We’ve lost the control group,” said Kaveri Subrahmanyam, a professor of psychology at California State University-Los Angeles. “How do you find a group of kids that are not using the computer?”
- When did you start using social media?
- What do you think is the appropriate age for users to get accounts?
- Do you think it is a conflict of interests that Facebook is used as a career networking tool for adults and for “little Susie” to chat with her fellow 11-year-old friends?
I also came across an article in “USA Today” about trends in social gaming, particularly on Facebook. The new outlet for gaming seems to have converted former non-gamers into obsessed Facebook patrons, spending hours a day monitoring virtual farms (on Farmville, a popular game on Facebook). According to Atul Bagga, a gaming analyst at market researcher Think Equity,
“The Wii democratized social gaming, but the always-on Internet took it further. So, many people who would not play games now do so on Facebook.”
I knew that games like Farmville were really popular among people of all ages (our receptionist even has a Farmville farm). However, I didn’t realize how much money they were bringing in. Bagga estimates the $500 million to $600 million of revenue from social-gaming to at least double in 2010, bringing that figure to $1 billion.
Much of the revenue is pouring in via a new model in the USA called “freemium,” as well as old-fashioned advertising. The freemium model, with roots in Asia, is built on the concept of giving away games, then charging players 25 cents to $10 to buy so-called virtual goods that enhance their gaming experience.
The only problem with these games seems to be longevity, according to analysts. The quicker they gain popularity, the quicker they lose it. But, there always seems to be something new around the corner…
Sick of FarmVille? Zynga, the maker of Farmville, introduced FishVille last week. Keep pet fish and harvest fish eggs for money. What will they think of next?
- Do you play games on social media? Do you find them to be fun or “a waste of time”?
- How do you think the “freemium” advertising model could help non-social-media Web sites?
- Most importantly…will you get a FishVille?