One of my favorite things about being a professor at Drake is teaching a multimedia lab to first-year students. They’re brand new to college and eager to learn and discuss. And for a couple weeks at least, they don’t even fall asleep in class.

I start the class on the topic of social media, asking what social networks they use and how they use them. Here are my informal findings on the state of social media from the Class of 2017.

• They still like Facebook, but they LOVE Twitter. They still see value in Facebook, but they prefer to post content to Twitter (where it’s acceptable to post more often and where there are are less family members to comment on everything they post).

• When they do post to Facebook, they’re doing it so family members can see what they are up to. So maybe a photo here or there. But they are definitely self-censoring.

• They spend more time on their smart phones than they do their computers. And 94 precent of them have a smart phone.

• They enjoy following celebrities on social media and feeling connected to those celebrities.

• The social network they feel most positive about? YouTube (although many of them don’t see it as a social network). Second: Snapchat. Third: Instagram.

• Why Snapchat? A combination of it’s newness and the fact they can be themselves and not worry about being judged (because posts disappear after they are seen).

• They absolutely love Instagram. It’s quick, simple, and it puts a smile on their face.

• They use Pinterest as a search engine. And when someone suggested they just use Google, the Pinterest users made it clear that Pinterest gave them much better results.

• Tumblr? Not so popular. LinkedIn and Foursquare? Never even heard of them.

Social media survey

I also gave the students a survey this year to see how they feel about various social networks and how they are accessing those networks.

95 students took the survey.

89 have a smartphone.

29 have a tablet.

The device where they spend the most time:

  • 76 smartphone
  • 18 computer
  • 1 tablet

I asked them to rate 12 social networks from 5 (love it) to 1 (hate it).

The results:

Network Avg. rating Love it (5) Hate it (1)
Youtube 4.46 56 0
Snapchat 4.04 47 6
Instagram 3.99 44 2
Twitter 3.93 37 1
Vine 3.81 31 2
Facebook 3.71 14 1
Pinterest 3.65 34 7
Tumblr 3.44 26 6
Google+ 2.85 7 8
LinkedIn 2.71 3 10
Foursquare 2.59 2 13
Myspace 1.82 1 46


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