Home Facebook Turns Adults into Adolescents; Is Google+ Next?

Facebook Turns Adults into Adolescents; Is Google+ Next?

Today Google+ announced that it is now open to users ages 13+ (in all countries except for Spain, South Korea and the Netherlands). Until today, Google+ had been 18+. When Facebook began in 2004, it was open to college students only, most of whom are 18+ years old. In September 2006, Facebook became available to everyone, including users ages 13+.

A study published last year by researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada looked at how parents acted on Facebook. Their study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. They discovered that parents revert to adolescent behavior, which suggests that there’s something inherently adolescent about social media.

“The online environment influences people of all ages,” Emily Christofides, a PhD psychology student who worked on the study with doctoral student Amy Muise and psychology professor Serge Dsmarais, told Science Daily. “Both parents and teens share and show more about themselves than they might in other social settings, and the same psychological factors underpin that behavior.”

The researchers found that popularity was a key factor in discerning how much information the user disclosed.

“The people who are the most popular are those whose online identity is actively participated in by others,” said doctoral student Amy Muise. “So the more you share, the more others respond.”

The study found that adults were less conscious of the consequences of sharing personal information on Facebook than their adolescent counterparts.

Will Teenagers Flock To Google+?

Google+ just added “favorite individuals” and organizations to the community, many of whom already have millions of fans on Facebook. Teen pop star +Selena Gomez boasts more than 26 million Facebook fans. +Teen Vogue has 1 million Facebook fans. Teen TV network +Nickelodeon has over 4 million Facebook fans. Will they migrate from Facebook to Google+, now that all their favorite stars are there?

A study from Alexander Interactive surveyed 2,000 teens ages 14-17 nationwide, and came away with some surprising results. Teens were actually interested in switching from Facebook to Google+, saying that Facebook was more news-oriented whereas Google+ actually felt more social. Teens were frustrated by the clutter of Facebook, especially the news ticker a.k.a. “scrolling stalker.” They did love Timeline, however, which could keep them on Facebook.

Facebook isn’t going to give up on its ultimate dream: To become a mall. And everyone knows who hangs out at the mall.

Will Google+ follow in Facebook’s footsteps, becoming just another cluttered social network for the adolescent and “young at heart”? Or will those adolescent behaviors stay on Facebook where they belong?

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