Teenagers not using Twitter? What a surprise, not!

Janet Street Porter - The Independent, 16 Aug
Interestingly, teenagers have already sussed Twitter is crap and aren't taking it up. According to a Nielsen survey, only 16 per cent of the people twittering are under 25, while a whopping 64 per cent are between 25 and 54. The largest group of users are aged 35 to 49 – and that's enough to deter the young. The use of social networking is already dropping among teenagers as the number of 25-34 year-olds using sites such as Facebook increases. In fact, ITV might have sold Friends Reunited in the nick of time, because at this rate the only people trying to meet up via websites like it will be so middle-aged, dreary and dull that no one will bother logging on.

It's not that they've sussed Twitter is crap, Janet. It's simpler than that. It's nature.

As most of us know ('cept Janet) there are essentially two phases of life - kids and grown-ups - and social media suits each depending on whether it is networking outwardly or inwardly.

Every hormone in teenagers is telling them to network outward - find as many friends of friends of friends as they possibly can and advertise themselves to as many as they can. They started as pre-teenagers on Habbo and moved on to Bebo, msn, and Facebook because that's what they were designed for - outward networking.

Twitter is an inward network system. It is designed for users to coagulate around niches of interest - social, work, hobby, etc. The reason teenagers don't use it, is because in networking terms, it's not efficiently 'expansionist' enough.

Janet is quite right about Friends Reunited. It was designed for those looking back in life and has lots of privacy filters, making it very 'inward'.

Facebook is the odd one out. It was designed for (Harvard) college kids to get together, but has been taken over by adults. I suspect the increase in adult use coincides with the introduction of more privacy filters. Either way, as more adults are seen to use it, teenagers will see it as unfashionable and continue to exit.

Of course there are exceptions. This is a broad summary, but that's why teenagers don't use Twitter. Not because it's crap, because it's crap for them.


Also, I think Twitter does not generally give fast returns. You need to put quite a bit of time and effort into cultivating the right people to follow and the right people to follow you. It's not a numbers games. Maybe it's about the attention span of teenagers? Ironic, given Twitter is the 140-word medium but I think it does take more time than the others.

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