How Kids Choose How to Communicate Online – No Loyalty

I first started using chat and Instant Message programs when I was 9. I first used ICQ and continued to use it for about 3 years. I stopped using it becuase I had problems with it on my computer and so I set up an MSN account. On my ICQ I had about 90 contacts but on my Messenger I only had about 25 bescause most of my friends kept using ICQ.

When I was 13 I created a Facebook page after I kept hearing my friends say it’s great. Since I started using Facebook I use its chat more than I use Messenger. When I want to talk to a friend I first check if he logged on to Facebook and then, if I have him on my Microsoft Messenger I check there. Only when I can’t reach a friend threw theInternet will I call him.

 I think most of my friends use ICQ more than Messenger because its easier to use and because one kid started using it and than got everybody else to use it it’s not that they chose between different programs, it’s just what someone else told them to use becuase he was using it.  Now that all of my friends have Facebook I think its chat is more popular than ICQ because its part of a big site where kids are doing other things and communicating in other ways in addition to chatting — sending messages, writing on each others’ “Wall”, posting pics and videos . . .

 On Facebook, while you are talking to your friends you can see there profiles and play all the different Facebook games.

Talking to friends via chat is different than talking with them in person or on the phone. When I talk to a friend using a chat program I feel like I can talk more freely and say things that in person or even on the phone I won’t feel comfortable saying. I also write with a lot of spelling mistakes that make the words shorter like instead of writing “school” Ill write “skool”. Sometimes I change words with numbers like “someone” becomes “some1″, “skateboard” becomes “sk8board” and so on.

Once when I had a fight with my sister I used her messenger account and talked to her friends like I was her. I felt bad, so I told my sister I did it… Another time one of my friends thought it would be funny to change his Facebook name to a kid’s name and change his profile picture to that kids profile picture and act like he is that kid. When we understood its not really that kid we got mad at my friend and made him stop using Facebook for a couple of days.

Facebook has helped me a lot in my social life. When I want to organize a party or invite friends over Ill use the chat because I can talk to several friends at the same time, come up with a plan, agree on it and then we don’t waist time with phone calls back and forth. It’s almost hard to imagine how we organized getting together before Facebook. Some kids will post a message tofor everyone to see like “Party on Friday at my house” or “Empty house (no parents) tonight!” that can get a little crazy becuase your friends can tell their friends, etc.

I don’t feel “loyal” to any particular program. They are all free. It’s mainly about where your friends are. So if tomorrow there is something new and everyone starts using it becuase of some cool feature, chances are I’ll be moving on as well. For now, Facebook is my favorite choice. I guess I’ll be checking out Google Buzz soon.

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