Teens Giving Twitter a Thumbs Down
A new report paints a picture of how teens and young adults are using social media these days.
Teens are eating up Facebook but are not so keen on Twitter, and they are not blogging as much as they used to, according to the Pew Internet Project's report.
"Out of all the data, we think in some ways it's most surprising to see a decline in blogging," says Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart, who co-wrote the report, "Social Media and Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults."
The report highlights data gathered from two telephone surveys in September, one that focused on teens ages 12-17 and a second survey of adults 18 and older.
Lenhart says blogging among teens and young adults has plummeted to half what it was in 2006. In that year, 28 percent of teens ages 12-17 and adults ages 18-29 were bloggers. By the fall of 2009, the numbers had dropped to 14 percent of teens and 15 percent of young adults. During the same period, the percentage of online adults over 30 who were bloggers rose from 7 percent in 2006 to 11 percent in 2009.
"What we think is really going on here - why young people aren't doing blogs anymore - is that there's been a move from MySpace, which put blogging front and center, to Facebook, which doesn't have that," Lenhart says.
The report also indicates that wireless connectivity is high among adults under 30, and social networking continues to climb.
But Twitter hasn't gained much ground with teens - only 8 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who go online say they ever use it. That's unusual, because teenagers have a history of being early adopters of nearly every online activity, Lenhart says.
Lenhart says researchers asked some teens in focus groups about their Twitter perceptions.
"Most had no idea what it was," Lenhart says. "Some knew it as 'that thing Lance Armstrong and other celebrities do.' "
She says there may be a perception with Twitter that you have to "feed the beast," and that may keep them away, Lenhart says.
"To quote my 15 year-old-son, 'Twitter is lame,'" says Lee Aase, manager of social media at Mayo Clinic. He says Facebook and texting may be satisfying teen chat needs.
"They're so into text-messaging that that niche is already sort of filled for them," he says.
Aase also says some teenagers may grow back into blogging as they hit adulthood: "Blogging has become a way to communicate with the world, about more meaningful issues, not just about communicating to friends."