In the past three years, developments in social networking and internet applications have begun providing internet users with more opportunities for sharing short updates about themselves, their lives, and their whereabouts online. Users may post messages about their status, their moods, their location and other tidbits on social networks and blogging sites, or on applications for sending out short messages to networks of friends like Twitter, Yammer and others.
As of December 2008, 11% of online American adults said they used a service like Twitter or another service that allowed them to share updates about themselves or to see the updates of others.
Twitter and similar services have been most avidly embraced by young adults. Nearly one in five (19%) online adults ages 18 and 24 have ever used Twitter and its ilk, as have 20% of online adults 25 to 34. Use of these services drops off steadily after age 35 with 10% of 35 to 44 year olds and 5% of 45 to 54 year olds using Twitter. The decline is even more stark among older internet users; 4% of 55-64 year olds and 2% of those 65 and older use Twitter.
The use of Twitter is highly intertwined with the use of other social media; both blogging and social network use increase the likelihood than an individual also uses Twitter. Twitter users and status updaters are also a mobile bunch; as a group they are much more likely to be using wireless technologies -- laptops, handhelds and cell phones -- for internet access, or cell phones for text messaging.
Overall, Twitter users engage with news and own technology at the same rates as other internet users, but the ways in which they use the technology -- to communicate, gather and share information -- reveals their affinity for mobile, untethered and social opportunities for interaction. Moreover, Twitter as an application allows for and enhances these opportunities, so it is not so surprising that users would engage in these kinds of activities and also be drawn to an online application that expands those opportunities.
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a daily tracking survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The bulk of the results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International between November 19 and December 20, 2008 among a sample of 2,253 adults, 18 and older, including 502 cell phone interviews as well as interviews conducted in Spanish. 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 2 percentage points. For results based Internet users (n=1,650), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.