On the 19th of August, Facebook rolled out a brand new app for iOS designed for teenagers by a teenager.
19 year old wunderkind and Facebook’s youngest app developer Michael Sayman, is the brains behind Lifestage, a social media networking app that operates in a similar, yet different vein of another social media platform. Users are able to curate their profiles and share information about themselves using nothing but photos and videos, the only difference is that the impermanence of a particular competitor has been done away with.
The app was inspired by Facebook’s original concept at its’ inception: teenagers are encouraged to network and connect with other users from their specific high school by “joining” the school upon registering. The content is only accessible to other users within the high school network, which will only be activated after 20 people from the same school sign up. The only draw back is that individuals are unable to be verified of their actual status as a student of the school. This is somewhat countered by a fail safe that does not allow users to change schools or join other networks after they have made the initial commitment.
But how about those pesky adults? Individuals from the age of 22 and over are able to create an account, but cannot do anything else. This means that the content – and therefore the data accrued – can only be monitored and accessed by the student, his or her network, and Facebook itself.
Many have posited the functionality of Lifestage, with analysts believing that the app is a means to an end.
For example, Lifestage is a way of training the digital natives of generation Y to effectively manage and curate their online presence and image. This makes for an easier transition to ‘big boy’ social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram and helps incubate healthy digital habits.
Secondly, some say that Lifestage is a valuable platform that funnels data to Facebook. By collecting information regarding the video and engagement habits of generation Y, the company will be primed to welcome them into the greater market once they hit their 20s. The data is also useful as Facebook begins to take initiatives to transition into a video centric platform itself.
Lifestage may even perhaps become the genus of the teenage influencer, with personalities like Jacob Sartorius becoming more and more popular everyday with the 12-18 demographic.
Whichever the case, Facebook’s new platform is the first social media venture that targets Generation Y. This means that companies are beginning to take notice of digital natives and their untapped potential and importance in an aging market.