Generation Y is using online social-networking tools now and will likely continue to do so for the next 10 years, Pew Internet Research found in a recent study.
According to Pew, which surveyed technology experts on the future of social networking, 67 percent of respondents believe that those born in the 1980s and 1990s will be "ambient broadcasters" on social networks in 2020. They will continue to "disclose a great deal of personal information, in order to stay connected, and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities." Just 29 percent of respondents said that by 2020, Generation Y will have "grown out" of social networks, finding other interests to entertain themselves.
A key component in the value of social networks to Generation Y, Pew found from experts, is that they see a significant social benefit in being on sites like Facebook or Twitter. They view it as an avenue to help them "build friendships, form and find communities, seek help, and build their reputations." Members of the generation will continue to see those benefits through 2020, the experts said.
But there's more to it than relationships. Members of Generation Y, according to the surveyed tech experts, are far more willing to offer up information than previous generations because "new social norms that reward disclosure are already in place among the young." They will carry that with them into adulthood.
Those who disagree with the important role social networks will play in the roles of Generation Y members say life will get in the way of social-networking activities.
The generation "will not have as much time in the future to devote to popular activities such as frequently posting to the world at large on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook about the nitty-gritty of their lives," Pew's dissenting experts contend.
In either case, it should be interesting to see how Generation Y responds to social networks as members grow older, and how Facebook and Twitter will respond.