February 3, 2010

Social Media and Young Adults

Blogging among teens and young adults drops to half what it was in 2006

  Wireless connectivity is high among those under 30 and social network use continues to rise, but certain features of the social sites are less popular with teens

Just 8% of online teens use Twitter

WASHINGTON, DC – Blogging among teens and young adults has declined over the past three years, even as blogging among adults over 30 has increased.

The proportion of online teens and young adults who blog has plummeted since 2006. In that year, 28% of teens ages 12-17 and young adults ages 18-29 were bloggers. By the fall of 2009, the numbers had dropped to 14% of teens and 15% of young adults.

During the same period, the percentage of online adults over thirty who were bloggers rose from 7% blogging in 2006 to 11% in 2009.

Much of the drop in blogging among younger internet users may be attributable to changes in social network use by teens and young adults. Nearly three quarters (73%) of online teens and an equal number (72%) of young adults use social network sites. By contrast, older adults have not kept pace. Some 40% of adults 30 and older use the social sites in the fall of 2009.

New survey results also show that among adults 18 and older, Facebook has taken over as the social network of choice; 73% of adult profile owners use Facebook, 48% have a profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn. “Blogging appears to have lost its luster for many young users,” said Amanda Lenhart, one of the authors of a report on these findings and a senior research specialist at the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. “The fad stage is over for teens and young adults and the move to Facebook — which lacks a specific tool for blogging within the network — may have contributed to the decline of blogging among young adults and teens.”

Lenhart also pointed out that many of the functions that blogging served for teens in the mid-2000s for communicating about their lives and updating their activities for their friends have become central activities on social networking sites like Facebook. “Microblogging and status updating on social networks have replaced old-style ‘macro-blogging’ for many teens and adults.”

These are among the findings of a new report from the Pew Internet Project titled “Social Media and Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults.” The report highlights data from two September 2009 telephone surveys – one focused on teens ages 12-17 and a separate survey of adults 18 and older.

Among the main findings of the report:

Additionally, young adults ages 18 to 29 have embraced mobile gadgets and connectivity:

“We often look to younger generations to see where technology use might be headed in the future,” Lenhart noted.  “People under 30 have often been in the vanguard of internet and cell-phone use, and it will be interesting to see how much of their enthusiasm for new gadgets is a time-of-life issue, and how much will ripple through the broader culture in the coming years.”

The quantitative results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research International between June 26 and September 24, 2009, among a sample of 800 teens ages 12-17 and a parent or guardian.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points. For adult findings, the bulk of the data is from telephone interviews conducted by PSRAI  between August 18 and September 14, 2009, among a sample of 2,253 American adults ages 18 and older, which includes 560 cell phone interviews. For results based on the total sample, the margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

This report is part of a Pew Research Center series exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation. Learn more at www.pewresearch.org/millennials.

About the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through surveys that examine how Americans use the internet and how their activities affect their lives.