The buzz of a phone is muffled by sophomore Caroline Mehta’s jacket pocket.
There’s one new tweet, according to her iPhone’s screen.
Mehta added Twitter to the ever-growing list of social networks that she uses five months ago.
And she’s only one of many in the sophomore class. In fact, 41 percent of sophomores now have a Twitter account.
Twitter even seems to be slowly replacing Facebook as the social network of choice for sophomores. Twenty-seven of 28 sophomores have a Facebook account, yet 12 of those are now using Twitter as well.
So why the sudden interest in Twitter?
For many sophomores the lack of parental presence on Twitter initially attracted them to making the switch.
“On Twitter, I can post things and my parents won’t ask me about them,” said Mehta, whose parents are both friends with her on Facebook.
“Even though they aren’t bad things I’m posting, I don’t like posting things on Facebook because I always feel like (my parents) will ask me about it.”
Mehta’s mother Greta said she didn’t get a Facebook account to watch what her children were posting.
“I got a Facebook account so I could stay in touch with family and friends,” said Greta, who has been using her Facebook every day since 2009. “In fact, my children were the ones who encouraged me to get an account.”
However, Pamela Larrabee, sophomore Lauren Larrabee’s mother, did consider her children when deciding to get a Facebook account in 2009.
“I decided to open the account so that I could see photos that my son (Tyler, ’09) was posting from his travel swim meets and other college events,” Pamela said. “It was a great way to stay connected with him.”
In the sophomore class, 71 percent have one or more parents with a Facebook whereas no parents have a Twitter.
But for some, the attraction to Twitter had nothing to do with parental presence on Facebook.
“I just decided to try something new,” sophomore Jaspreet Gill, who signed up a year ago, said.
Sophomore Erik Morfin-Ruiz, who has been using Twitter for a year now, got an account for similar reasons. “(I got one) just for the fun of it,” Morfin-Ruiz said.
For Mehta, another contributing factor was the vast number of friends who had joined Twitter as well as the prospect of a clean slate when it came to whom to follow.
“(On Facebook), some of the people I’m friends with barely know me,” Mehta said. “It’s just uncomfortable.”
Now, Mehta uses Twitter to follow 78 people.
While Mehta now has a way to post what she wants without having her photos accessible to strangers, she never expected Twitter to become such a prominent part of her life.
“I go on multiple times per day,” Mehta said. “But I only post a few times per week.”
Mehta said she goes on Facebook once a day and usually for only 30 minutes.
For Morfin-Ruiz, Twitter has become even more of a time-suck.
“It’s really addicting once you get on it,” Morfin-Ruiz, who uses Twitter for one to two hours every day, said.
In comparison, Morfin-Ruiz said he uses Facebook only 1-2 hours a week.
For some, however, using Twitter is more of an occasional pleasure.
“I go on (Twitter) once a day for five minutes max,” Larrabee, who got her Twitter account two months ago, said.
But, for Larrabee, Twitter is still a more prominent part of her life than Facebook. “I actively use (Twitter),” Larrabee said. “I just scroll through Facebook sometimes.”
Larrabee said she spends only a few minutes a week on Facebook.
In fact, 50 percent of sophomores with a Facebook account in addition to a Twitter said they spend more time on Twitter.
For Larrabee, her attraction to Twitter stems from it’s basic style of social media.
“There’s no pressure to like things that you don’t want to,” Larrabee said.
Mehta agrees. “I can follow the people I want to follow,” Mehta said. “It doesn’t have to be mutual.”
“It’s easier to access (Twitter),” Morfin-Ruiz said. “When you post on Facebook, it’s one big thing. On Twitter, it’s more of an individual thing, kind of like a journal.”
Either way, the popularity of Twitter has spread throughout the sophomore class and may even continue to grow.
In fact, Twitter has started to expand among all grade levels. Twenty-four percent of freshmen, 7 percent of juniors, and 35 percent of seniors have a Twitter account.