Teenagers, that valuable and highly sought demographic, might not be the über-users of the Web that most of us thought they were, at least according to a recent Pew Internet study. The fact is that teens are ignoring Twitter, forgetting their blogs and aggregating around social networking sites.
While 73% of teens are members of social networking sites, the study found that:
- Only 8% use Twitter.
- Only 14% blog, compared to 28% in 2006.
Even their activity on these sites is shifting from just a year ago. For instance:
- Not only do they blog less, they are less likely to leave a comment on a blog.
- They are less likely to send group or private messages.
Some social-media commentators have noted there’s a tendency towards brevity, and away from substantial content creation. They note that teenagers still post images and comment on them, send IMs and text messages, and leave notes on each other’s walls – all ways of socializing that don’t involve significant effort.
Lacking any real insight, I’ll throw in my two cents’ worth of conjecture here. Teenagers, almost all of whom were born after the introduction of the first Web browser, are the true Internet generation. Like television and radio, the Internet is an appliance or a utility to them. They don’t crack it open, hack it or tweak it. (That was the role of the early adopters who are now the tech-savvy, device-hungry young adults of today.) They take it for granted.
Social networking sites aggregate all the functionality a young user needs. With apologies to Albert Einstein, these sites make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.
Mind you, it could also be that teenagers are turning away from socializing via computer and more towards texting on mobile phones. (Did you know that 58% of 12-year-olds have mobile phones? This from the same Pew study.)
So what do you think? Is this shift a significant trend? Or are teenagers finding other ways to socialize? Let me know what you think in the comments below.