There has been much media attention given to Twitter and other microblogging services over the past year and initially the supposition was that, as with other types of social network services, teenagers would be leading the adoption charge on a social, connective technology. However, data from September 2009 suggest that teens do not use Twitter in large numbers. While a September 2009 survey of adults suggests that 19% of adult internet users ages 18 and older use Twitter or update their status online, teen data collected at a similar time show that only 8% of online American teens ages 12-17 use Twitter.
It should be noted that the question wording for teens is quite different from how the question was posed to adults so the results are not strictly comparable. For more on our adult findings about twitter, please see http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/17-Twitter-and-Status-Updating-Fall-2009.aspx and http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2009/Twitter-and-status-updating.aspx.
Older teens ages 14-17 are more likely to use Twitter than middle school teens ages 12-13. Among internet users, one in ten (10%) high school aged teens uses Twitter while less than half that number of younger teens – just 5% – do so. High school aged girls are driving the age differences; 13% of online girls in that age group use Twitter, compared to 7% of boys that age. Teens from households wired with broadband are slightly more likely to report using Twitter—with 9% of broadband users on Twitter compared to just 3% of teens with dial up access at home. There are no differences in Twitter use among teens by race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
Among adults, young adults are the most active users of status update services such as Twitter; one-third (33%) of internet users under the age of thirty post or read status updates online. These services are especially popular among the youngest adults—fully 37% of online 18-24 year olds post status updates about themselves online or view the updates of others, up from 18% of the youngest adults in December 2008. These higher rates of Twitter use and status updating among young adults relative to teens may be partially due to our question wording capturing status updates on social networking sites. Many social networking sites offer the ability to post short status updates, and usage of social networking sites is highly correlated with status update behavior—fully 35% of social networking site users also post status updates online, compared with just 6% of internet users who do not use social networking websites. There is little variation in the use of status update services based on race, ethnicity or socio-economic status; however, online women (21% of whom use Twitter or other status update services) are more likely to use these services than men (17% of whom do so).