Saturday, July 03, 2010

Facebook or Zynga? Where is the teen leaning?

Roiworld, a website designer of virtual fashion, helped commission a study recently that took a relatively small sample size of teenagers and polled them to try and get a grasp on the relationship between teens and social networking sites.  Unless you’ve been in some far-away land that has no working Internet, you probably already know that teenagers and social networking have become quite interconnected.  However, what most people don’t know is that interest in Facebook is starting to kick, and Facebook as a serious plan to keep membership going.

The study didn’t find a whole lot that was surprising about Facebooks fading trend as a fad entity.  About 20% of kids stated that they don’t check their site as much as a they did a year ago, and that the main reason was boredom.  Other major reasons were interest in other websites, and too much activity (meaning too much to keep up with).  This is not terribly shocking.  As Facebook has become more and more mainstream, it becomes less and less cool with teenagers.  Heard that before?  Twitter isn’t even going to become a serious trend with teenagers because it became mainstream almost instantly. 

What parents should be aware of is the push by companies to get kids to stay online longer while spending a dollar here and there on, well, nothing.  Over the last year magazines like Forbes, Business Week, and the Economist have dedicated many pages about Social Networking’s push on changing the rules of the Internet’s sensation from communication to gaming.  The Roiworld study showed that an astonishing 80% of social network users actually play games on the network, and that during their time on the network more than half is dedicated to game play.  A vast majority of the business articles I read are focused on Zynga, a San Francisco based company with 760 employees that bring popular games like Cafe World, Mafia Wars, Live Poker (which I partake in on occasion), and the ever famous Farmville.  More and more students are getting into the games and many use real money to buy virtual items within the virtual reality.  It is making some serious money for Zynga and is becoming more popular with teens by the day.  In fact, one needs to wonder if Facebook is simply the car that Zynga is now driving. 

What does it mean for kids?  Well, it means that just because your kids aren’t on the Wii or the Xbox doesn’t mean they aren’t gaming.  They are very likely on the computer trying to build another stable for Farmville.  It is also another distraction for those trying to get homework done.  Checking your Facebook every five minutes while doing homework is now an honored tradition.  You can now add a half-hour Texas Hold-em break as well, and some time thrown in there to make sure the guns are loaded for Mafia Wars. 

Oh, and parents need to make sure and check the Visa card on occasion too.  You never know when your kid needs that virtual calf-rope for the Farmville Rodeo.   

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