Understanding the Social Media Landscape in Singapore
We see people on the train use it; talk with our friends on it, and share the latest trending stories through it. We are talking about Social Media, online platforms (apps or websites) that allows for creation and exchange of content with networks of people.
Social Media Statistics 1:
- More than 3.5 billion active internet users
- Over 2.5 billion people have social media accounts
- Nearly 1.8 billion people as active social media accounts
In a country where 96% of Singaporean internet users own at least 1 social media account and spends a daily average of 2 hours 27 minutes 2 , it has become the norm to integrate our lifestyle habits and decision making processes with social media platforms.
So how does this influence our children and teenagers, who are known for role-modelling behaviours they see?
TRENDS IN THE YOUTH SCENE
- User-generated content is the way to go
Platforms such as YouTube are a haven for users who tap into their creative side to generate content that appeals to different audiences. It is almost the sleek cousin of good old peer mentoring; except the mentor is no longer a physical person. For our youths, this represents the era where learning no longer has to take place in a physical environment. Coupled with the idea that job opportunities have been shifted online (Airbnb owns no physical rooms, Uber and Grab own no vehicles of their own), youths of this age may struggle to identify with previous generation’s value of investing energies in physical world activities.
- Achievement is norm
With the ease of access to content quicker, more convenient and sometimes better, it leaves little time for children and youths to become good at failing; to learn to try again after failure. Our youths expect themselves to be saavy and find solutions quickly (“Just Google it”), so when faced with obstacles the realisation that there are sometimes no quick fixes can be hard to accept.
In our society’s culture focus on doing the ‘right thing’ (eg: human rights, anti-bullying), it may cause the significance of a glitch (mistake) in their life journey to be magnified disproportionately. There may also be expectations from peers or loved ones to “be okay” when “I’m not feeling okay”, which can exacerbate the pressure youths place on themselves.
Youth trends have shifted from Facebook to visual and audio media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. The reason for this is simple; it simulates a sensory experience of an intimate relationship with others. A platform such as Snapchat allows for real time posting of life events, yet without the accountability; no one can ‘like’ or leave a public comment to ‘judge’ your post. It allows users to share a common experience with each other just as if they were in the same physical space, and disintegrates like a memory.
For both Instagram and Snapchat, these are also platforms that appeal visually and allow users to create a visible telepresence; an online identity that becomes a part of who you wish to be in front of peers. Yet what this trend really points to, is how much our youths seek to form relationships, and also to form a separate identity away from the eyes of adults.
The digital world opens up numerous possibilities of engagement, and our youths are seeking to harness that power. The question now is how they can be directed to utilise these resources, yet also develop the ability to maintain fulfilling real life relationships and responsibilities.
Whilst trends and modes of communication constantly evolve, the principle that innately motivates people remains the same. There is a yearning for love and belonging, to be accepted by and to identify with others. Parents therefore need to be aware of their own moral codes that they would like to impart to their children, as these will anchor and shape the choices they make in adolescence and adulthood, to cope with the volatile and fast changing future landscape of the world.