Social media networks are here to stay. Newspapers have perhaps half a decade left as a mainstream source of information.
So said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California Annenberg School, during a presentation today at the American Association of Advertising Agencies Transformation in San Francisco.
Cole, who has spent 10 years studying the media-consumption habits of teenagers and related trends, said: "The sad truth is every time a reader dies, they are not being replaced," said Cole, referring to the fact most teenagers get their news and information from online sources.
While they don't read newspapers, teens are active social media users and "they will stay in communities for the rest of their lives."
Facebook, however, may lose its luster, especially now that parents often sign on and try to "friend" their kids.
Instead, they are likely to migrate toward more narrowly focused communities, he said.
As they mature, teens tend to abandon the belief that advertising has no impact on their purchasing decisions, Cole said. And they will embrace e-mail in a way they don't when they're younger as a filtering device.
Teens he said, "spend most of their lives in front of a screen," be it mobile, computer or TV. And they have a constant thirst for any and all details about their peers' lives. "It gives them an ambient awareness, a sort of general sense of what's going on around them."
As teens get older they become less interested in the minutiae of their friends lives. But what remains, said Cole, is an interest in having "total control of their media" as a way of maintaining, to the greatest extent possible, "real control over their lives."