Has your Facebook feed become quieter lately?
Once the hub of communication, Facebook is changing. It seems that the majority of people posting are Martha Stewart, your sister-in-law who wants you to play Bubble Witch Saga, and your old high school friends that you haven't seen in years. Where are the kids, the ones who are supposed to set the trends for all of us in technology and style?
They're still there, but they aren't talking. And as a parent, you have no one to blame but yourself. Consider this exchange on Reddit, following news that Facebook was concerned it was losing younger users to alternate networks.
"It's never been the same since my mother and college professors friended me," poster ihcun wrote.
And to that, fizzbar said, "That's why it's called Mombook now..."
The percentage of U.S. moms on Facebook has grown rapidly, from 50 percent in 2010 to 72 percent in 2012. In that same period, the average age of Facebook users climbed from 38 to 41. Facebook just isn't fun anymore with mom looking over their shoulders. So where are kids having their conversations?
Where the kids are
It's easy to find your kids and friends on Facebook, but you may find it more difficult to do so on other networks because some of these sites don't require a real name to set up an account. However, once you find them, you can usually follow accounts without "friending."
Tumblr is the most popular social network for teens, outpacing Facebook 61 percent to 55 percent, according to RightMixMarketing. Tumblr began as a blogging platform, but has kept pace with teens' quick-to-post preferences, such as photos and quotes.
To find people on Tumblr, go to www.tumblr.com/lookup where your Facebook and Gmail contacts will be searched for Tumblr account matches. Choose who you would like to follow from the list.
Twitter, the reigning champ of the short-form post, has attracted a significant teen user base -- about 22 percent of all teens express their thoughts in 140-character tweets.
To find people on Twitter, use the search box and type in a person's name. Twitter finds matches based on the name used when the account was created, which means that you can find people who use a pseudonym on Twitter if they registered with their real names.
Instagram has proved hugely popular with young people, and now boasts about the same percentage of teen users as Twitter. Here's where ex-Facebook photos have found a home -- more than 40 million photos are posted every day, according to Instagram.
There are two ways to find people on Instagram. You can search individually by using Instagram's Discover tab or you can find Facebook friends who have Instagram accounts by using the "Find Friends" feature under your profile options (tap the gear icon).
Snapchat, a picture messaging app for iPhone and Android, is used almost exclusively by kids. Accounts can be set so that only those the user has accepted as a friend (similar to with Facebook) can send an instant message. Or it can be public, which means anyone can send a message -- if they know the user's name.
You can ask Snapchat to search your phone's address book for numbers that match Snapchat accounts. You can choose to add these people to your Snapchat contacts and then send messages.
However, Snapchat is not Facebook -- there are few grown-ups here and you're better off sticking to sending a regular text.
Reddit is a social news site filled with categories that are especially appealing to teens, such as gaming, advice animals (yes, advice from all kinds of critters shown as memes), pics (photos) and funny, which also includes a lot of photos.
Reddit does not require any personal information at sign-up, and most users choose a pseudonym. (That's why there are no numbers for Reddit users.) The only way you're likely to find someone you know on Reddit is by asking friends for their screen names.
Facebook is still the best place to stay in touch with family and friends, especially when they live some distance away. And, as of last month, Facebook has added free Internet calling to its apps for iPhone and Android. The feature is a little tricky to find, but very easy to use. Go to a friend's page on your phone, tap the Message button and then look in the top right corner for a box with an "i" in it. Tap "Free Call" and if your friend has the app open, it will ring immediately, just like an ordinary call.
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org.