Teens Just Not That Into Twitter, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens


Kids! They're always texting, tweeting and doing who-knows-what with all their little gizmos and gadgets.

Actually, not so much.

Take Twitter. A new report from the Pew Research Center reveals only 8 percent of online teens are into Twitter.

Those flying fingers are more likely sending text messages or updating Facebook pages.

Twitter enables people to share -- in 140 characters or less -- what is happening in their lives with just about anyone who is interested. These brief messages are called "tweets."
Some celebrities, such as actor Ashton Kutcher, can barely make a sandwich without feeling the need to tell the world about the mayonnaise.

The Washington Post reports that Twitter came in with a bang but is whimpering along as a social networking tool. Researchers tell the paper that's because teens want to talk to their friends, not the whole wide world.

"Most teens are not interested in being truly public," Danah Boyd, a researcher with Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, tells the Post.

Twitter allows users to limit the people who can read their messages, Boyd adds, but it is "fundamentally a public system." Teens can find better ways to communicate with just their friends, she says.

Pew researchers released their report Feb. 3 as part of their Internet and American Life Project. They found older teens are more likely than their younger peers to use Twitter. Also, girls like Twitter more than boys -- with 13 percent of high school girls using Twitter as opposed to only 7 percent of boys.

The Post reports that when teens do use Twitter, they are following the tweets of celebrities such as Kutcher, rather than revealing details about their own sandwiches.

"I don't know a single person who uses Twitter," Samara Fantie, 17, tells the Post.

Fantie tells the paper Twitter is less secure, more public and too condensed. "Teenagers like to talk, and 140 characters is just not enough," she tells the paper.

Eszter Hargittai of Northwestern University conducted a study less than a year ago where she found 85 percent of the college students she surveyed had never used Twitter, 10 percent used it once and did not go back, and 4 percent were using it regularly.

"They're more interested in friends and not keeping in touch with the world more broadly," she tells the Post.

Besides, finding interesting things to say about day-to-day life can be a chore.

"It takes so long to think about something interesting to write," Victoria Kelley, 17, of North Potomac tells the Post.

Related: Our Favorite Celeb Twitter-ers

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.