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Modern Parenthood

As Facebook's teen mojo fades, parents ask: What's next?

Facebook has lost some of its allure for teens as their parents and teachers have made themselves home on the site. So where are they heading for their social media fix?

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Twitter moves faster than Facebook, and promises a higher level of anonymity and a greater opportunity for snarking and sniping (although as one Washington insider discovered last month, "somewhat anonymous" and "completely anonymous" are different in very important ways.)

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2) Instagram

Along with the decline of the word comes the rise of the image, and the picture-sharing service Instagram is one of the fastest, sleekest, most forgiving ways to turn whatever you happen to be looking at into Internet candy. Its photos filters render even half-competent snaps enchanting, and its relative isolation from other social media channels makes it a bit of an island retreat unto itself.

3) Tumblr

Long the home for snarky, updated-every-minute reblogged image blogs and avant garde art blogs (as well as a host of not-safe-for-work blogs that took advantage of Tumblr's flexible, fast-moving format) the Tumblr blogging platform is the Internet's all-night party – a little wild, a little inaccessible, and dependably weird. Only time will tell if its acquisition by Yahoo! will smother the vibe.

4) "Other" – Formspring, Snapchat, Ask.fm

Many of the newer, lesser-known social media channels are appealing as much for what they obscure (identity, even messages themselves after they've been deleted) as for what they reveal. Teens who want to (insert your misbehavior of choice here: sext, talk about drugs, badmouth parents, and peers) are increasingly aware of the long trail left by posting online, and convinced that sneakier services are preferable to better behavior.

The overall movement of teen interest may reflect a lot of things: Facebook hitting the saturation point, other social networks mining fresh niches, and teens asking themselves two important questions?

"Where are my parents / teachers / obligations?" (Increasingly: Facebook.)

And:

"Where are my friends?" (Also Facebook, but increasingly also somewhere else.)

And that "somewhere else" quickly becomes the adults-free social space that teens have been seeking since Romeo and Juliet. (And, no doubt, well before that.)

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