Pew study of social media use among teens enlightening, surprising

Teens not so hip on Twitter and definitely not into blogging...so what is it that teens like when it comes to social media? Our quick peek at the recent Pew report reveals a lot.
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Social networking has risen among all age groups in the past few years, particularly among teens and younger adults, according to a recent research report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Pew research revealed that in 2009, 73 percent of online teens frequented social networking sites compared to 47 percent of online adults. Two quick takeaways from the report, which is very detailed, find that blogging is off with teens, but up with adults, and that teens, ages 12 to 17, are not using Twitter very much, seemingly preferring to use Facebook.

Quick Hits:

  • As of 2009, just 15 percent of Internet users ages 18-29 maintained a blog -- a 9-percentage-point drop in two years. However, 11 percent of Internet users, ages 30 and older, now maintain a personal blog.
  • Both teen and adult use of social networking sites has risen significantly, yet there are shifts and some declines in the proportion of teens using several social networking site features.
  • 73 percent of wired American teens now use social networking websites, a significant increase from previous surveys. Just over half of online teens (55 percent) used social networking sites in November 2006 and 65 percent did so in February 2008.
  • As the teen social networking population has increased, the popularity of some sites' features has shifted. Compared with activity in February 2008, a smaller proportion of teens in mid-2009 were sending daily messages to friends via social networking sites, or sending bulletins, group messages or private messages on the sites.
  • 47 percent of online adults use social networking sites, up from 37 percent in November 2008.
  • Adults are increasingly fragmenting their social networking experience as a majority of those who use social networking sites (52 percent) say they have two or more different profiles. That is up from 42 percent who had multiple profiles in May 2008.
  • Facebook is currently the most commonly used online social network among adults. Among adult profile owners, 73 percent have a profile on Facebook, 48 percent have a profile on MySpace and 14 percent have a LinkedIn profile.
  • Teens are not using Twitter in large numbers. While teens are bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter is an exception. Only 8 percent of Internet users, ages 12-17, use Twitter. This makes Twitter as common among teens as visiting a virtual world, and far less common than sending or receiving text messages -- as 66 percent of teens do -- or going online for news and political information, done by 62 percent of online teens.
  • Young adults lead the way when it comes to using Twitter or status updating. One-third of online 18-to-29-year-olds post or read status updates. Wireless Internet use rates are especially high among young adults, and the laptop has replaced the desktop as the computer of choice among those under age 30.
  • Roughly half of 18-to-29-year-olds have accessed the Internet wirelessly on a laptop (55 percent) or on a cell phone (55 percent), and about one quarter of 18-to-29-year-olds (28 percent) have accessed the Internet wirelessly on another device such as an e-book reader or gaming device.
  • African-American adults are the most active users of the mobile web, and their use is growing at a faster pace than mobile Internet use among white or Hispanic adults.
  • 62 percent of online teens get news about current events and politics online.
  • 48 percent of wired teens have bought things online like books, clothing or music, up from 31 percent who had done so in 2000 when Pew first asked about this.
  • 31 percent of online teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the Internet. And 17 percent of online teens report they use the Internet to gather information about health topics that are hard to discuss with others such as drug use and sexual health topics.

To read the full Pew report, click here.

--Michael Hodgson

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