Facebook, the social media giant, is taking active steps to encourage teenagers to consume content in more mindful ways.

Anja Dinhopl, UX research manager at Facebook, discussed this subject at a session held by Living in Digital Times at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.

“What we found out through the course of that research … is that adults actually spend more time than teens per post on social media,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Facebook encourages teens to embrace “slow media”.)

Dinhopl said this was undoubtedly “interesting,” but proved confusing for Facebook, since its teenage members engage in broadly the same activities as its property’s older users.

“We were asking ourselves: ‘why are teens not taking it slower?’” she reported. “And we found, behaviorally, there are differences: teens engage with content behaviorally different than adults.”

One underlying insight: “They make quicker decisions,” said Dinhopl. A desire for interactivity is another guiding principle for this youthful demographic, too.

“They want to do something with the stuff that they’re seeing. They don’t just want to look at it; they then want to share it with someone; they want to remix it, maybe; they want to be able to add their own creative spin to it,” said Dinhopl.

Perhaps the most impactful learning, however, was that teens suffer from a “fear of missing out” – or “FOMO” – when it comes to new and interesting content.

“When they’re getting uncomfortable is when they’re seeing a lot of different things and they feel like they’re missing out on stuff, or [stuff] they have to keep track of,” said Dinhopl.

The flip-side of this equation offered useful guidance. “When they get lost in something that they’re interested in – when they’re feeling like they’re learning [and] they’re creatively engaged – that’s when they’re feeling happier from the intent-driven perspective that we’re looking at from our research.”

In response, a variety of features – such as prioritising who they see Facebook Newsfeed messages from first, being told they’re “all caught up on Instagram”, and being able to save posts for later – are being introduced to facilitate this activity.

“We’re trying to honor the motivations that young people have when they’re consuming content and that, for us, means collaboration, reflection, creativity, and mastery that we want to provide in our product,” said Dinhopl.

Sourced from WARC