Online teens’ use of social networking sites appears to have leveled out, but more are turning to Twitter, according to [pdf] results from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In 2012, 81% of online teens (aged 12-17) surveyed reported using a social networking sites, relatively flat from 80% a year earlier. But, the proportion of teens who reported using Twitter jumped from 16% to 24% in that time span, growing to outpace adoption by adults (16% in 2012). The researchers note that not all teens think of Twitter as a social networking site, though: there is a small subset of respondents who say they do not use social networking sites, but do use Twitter.
Looking at the demographics of teen Twitter users (where “teen” here and throughout this article refers to “teen internet users”), the study reveals that girls are far more likely than boys to be using the platform (31% vs. 19%), with girls aged 14-17 the most active segment (39%). Black teens are also far more likely to be using Twitter than white or Hispanic teens (39% vs. 23% and 19%, respectively). In an earlier study, Pew noted that on the whole, black adults are 63% more likely than the average adult to report using Twitter (26% vs. 16%).
While teens are moving to Twitter in greater numbers, Pew’s latest study suggests that Facebook is still their dominant platform. In fact, 81% say that Facebook is the social networking profile they use most often, compared to 7% who say the same about Twitter and 3% about Instagram. Those results stand in apparent contrast to recent survey findings from Piper Jaffray, which suggested that Twitter has grown to rival Facebook as teens’ most important social network. It’s possible that teens would use Facebook more often but find Twitter more important, though, which might explain some of the discrepancy. (Also, it’s worth noting that the Pew survey was conducted in Q3 2012, and it’s highly likely that teens’ use of Twitter has grown in the 6+ months since the survey’s completion. Finally, the median age of the Piper Jaffray sample was likely older than that of the Pew sample – with older teens more likely to be using Twitter than younger ones.)
About the Data: The 2012 Teens and Privacy Management Survey sponsored by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 802 teens aged 12 to 17 years-old and their parents living in the United States. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. The interviews were done in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, LLC from July 26 to September 30, 2012. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±4.5 percentage points.
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