Teens continue to be avid users of social networking websites – as of September 2009, 73% of online American teens ages 12 to 17 used an online social network website, a statistic that has continued to climb upwards from 55% in November 2006 and 65% in February 2008.
As we have seen consistently over time, older online teens are more likely to report using online social networks than younger teens. While more than 4 in 5 (82%) online teens ages 14-17 use online social networks, just a bit more than half of online teens ages 12-13 say they use the sites. These age findings are understandable in light of age restrictions on social networking sites that request that 12 year olds refrain from registering or posting profiles, but do not actively prevent it. Indeed, among online teens just 46% of 12 year olds in the study used social network sites, while 62% of 13 year olds used them.
Teens who go online daily are also more likely to use social network websites (or perhaps are encouraged by the sites to go online daily), with 80% of daily internet users visiting these sites compared with 62% of teens who go online less often. Teens from lower income families (those earning less than $30,000 annually) are more likely to use online social networks than teens from wealthier households, with more than four in five teens from the less well-off households using social networks compared to roughly 70% of teens from wealthier homes.
In November 2006, the composition of the teen social network-using population was somewhat different than it is today. There were no significant differences in family income between teen social network users and those who did not use the sites. Girls were more likely to use the sites than boys – unlike today when boys and girls are equally likely to visit. However, little has changed between 2006 and 2009 with regards to the age of social network users – then as now, 12 and 13 year old teens were much less likely to use online social network sites than their older, high-school aged counterparts.