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Study Says Teens Aren't Tantalized by Twitter, Blasé About Blogging

Teenagers, those impetuous stewards of the fountain of youth, are always assumed to be at the forefront of online trends. After all, they're the ones who help Grandma Google, or explain Facebook to Uncle Phil. So what does it mean, then, when teens flock to Facebook and MySpace, but neglect their 140-character cousin? Is Twitter a high school outcast? The answer, according to one recent study, is "yes."

The Pew Research Center's latest Millenial Generation report shows that, while the vast majority of teens continue to use online social networking, relatively few are on Twitter. Just 8-percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 tweet, compared to the 73-percent that use social networking sites in general. When divided between older and younger teens, the stats are slightly differentiated, with 10-percent of kids aged 14-17 saying they regularly use the site, while a paltry 5-percent of tweens admit to tweeting.

In an interview with The Washington Post, 17-year-old Samara Fantie points to the condensed structure of Twitter as a kiddie repellant, arguing that "teenagers like to talk, and 140 characters is just not enough." A corollary finding from the study, though, suggests that it may not be Twitter's brevity that turns teens off. Back in 2006, 28-percent of teenagers regularly blogged. Today, however, that number's dwindled down to 14. So what's the deal? danah boyd, a researcher at Microsoft and Harvard, suggests that privacy might be to blame, pointing out that "most teens are not interested in being truly public," something difficult to avoid on a platform that's "fundamentally a public system."

While this seems like a plausible enough argument to us (no one this side of Yale University are as hermetically clique-ish as teenagers), we don't think privacy is the whole story. Today's average teenager grew up in an era that saw wall posts and photo tags replace hallway gossip and handwritten love letters as adolescent social currency. Facebook allows for much more personalization and expression than the comparatively rudimentary Twitter. At a time when notoriously solipsistic teens can update statuses and more carefully calibrate images on Facebook, it makes sense to us that a high schooler would glance at Twitter, scratch her head, and simply ask, "Why?" [From: Pew Research Center; via: The Washington Post]

Tags: demographics, facebook, pew, PewResearchCenter, social networking, SocialNetworking, teens, top, twitter