Will Baby Boomers Make Social Networks Uncool?

Social networking sites initially gained traction thanks to Generation Y when Friendster launched 6 years ago. Then when Facebook opened its doors to the general public, the site experienced a surge in users that were over 40. I for one, now have two parents that are both active on Facebook. While it’s a weird feeling, I doubt it’s as weird as it is for middle and high schoolers that have their parents checking their online profiles to make sure they aren’t getting into trouble.

Generation Y has proven its willingness to switch social network sites on the drop of a dime. That’s what happened to Friendster when MySpace launched a few years back and many have begun to wonder if the same thing is destined for Facebook. So far, the older crowd has been successful at keeping themselves separate from the younger groups for the most part. That’s because its possible to use Facebook without ever interacting with people that you don’t know.

So what are the older Facebook users using the site for? Well, according to a Newsday article, they are using it the same way most people are using it: to find old friends. Professors are also using the site to connect with students. Not everything is the same for various age groups though. As the Newsday article states:

In addition to spending more time on social networks, young people will often have more than one MySpace profile or Facebook page for each of their personas, such as reflecting their artistic or musical tastes.

The older users on the other hand “have already developed fixed identities and are less likely to experiment with online identities.” There is also an interesting thing taking place between generations. One girl I spoke to yesterday said that one of her prior bosses will occasionally challenge her to a game of Scrabulous. As such, she feels it necessary to play the game in order to maintain their relationship.

While the generational gap makes for interesting studies of human behavior, one thing is definite: humans like to interact socially online just as much as they do offline. As to whether or not the boomers will chase away the younger users? So far everything points to a peaceful co-existence among multiple generations on the site. Whether or not that trend will continue, we will just have to wait and see.

Do you foresee any challenges arising due to the wide range of generations on Facebook and other social network sites? Do you have any personal experiences related to this?