Teens often get demonized by adults when it comes to their use of digital technologies and social media. We spend an awful lot of time talking about how it dominates their lives, replaces face-to-face interaction, fosters bullying and cruelty, etc. It’s just human nature to focus on the problems and downsides, I suppose.
But it isn’t fair.
The majority of teens use these tools in friendly, prosocial, creative and/or productive ways most of the time. That just doesn’t make for a great news headline.
Which is why WeHeartIt.com made me smile. The brand new social network gets little notice from adults, but it’s already garnered more than 25 million users, 80% of them under the age of 24.
So how does We Heart It work? It’s essentially a mashup of Tumblr (the popular microblogging platform that encourages use of images, videos and GIFs) and Pinterest (the theme-based, pinboard-style photo-sharing website). It’s a fresh, young, creative collection of images that link to other places on the web, with a positive spin. Users are encouraged by the site to curate collections (or “canvases”) of hyperlinked images that you love, or that inspire or move you.
Followers can choose to “Heart” someone else’s post, which then automatically cross-posts it to one of their canvases. There are no comments allowed, so as to discourage negativity or bullying. Users can tag photos, but don’t write descriptions the way they would on Pinterest.
Kids are interested in the next big thing. Facebook is increasingly crowded with their parents, grandparents and nosy prospective college admissions officers and employers. They are constantly on the lookout for fresh new ways to curate an online personality and share it with friends.
So is WeheartIt.com here to stay? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s certainly of enjoyable to see a popular site that’s all about sharing and encouragement.