What social networks are teens flocking to these days? That’s the billion dollar question as we see companies like Yahoo snapping up Tumblr in an effort to keep a younger audience. But teens are a tough audience to predict, and trends can change dramatically even in a single year.
About 24 percent of teens who go online were using Twitter at the end of 2012, marking a dramatic increase from the 16 percent who were on Twitter in 2011. The new findings on teen social media use and attitudes toward online privacy come from a new report from the Pew Research Center, “Teens, Social Media and Privacy,” that’s set to release on Tuesday. Here’s how things changed in just a year:
Apart from the raw numbers, Pew conducted focus groups with teens across the country to get feedback on how they use different sites. Here are the five most important trends you should know about teens and social media:
1. Teens are outpacing the grown-ups on Twitter
The rise in Twitter use among teens is particularly interesting since adult adoption hovers around 16 percent, according to the latest Pew report on adult social media use. Numbers among online teens are even stronger for African-Americans, 39 percent of whom are on the service (compared to 23 percent of white teens). Teens have shown a remarkable adoption of the service since 2009, when Pew first asked about the site, when only 9 percent reported using it.
2. Public is the new private on Twitter
The majority of teen Facebook users have their accounts set to private, but not so on Twitter. Some 64 percent of teens have Twitter accounts set to public so anyone can read their tweets, with 24 percent setting their accounts to private. Perhaps of most concern, 12 percent reported they didn’t know whether their tweets were public or private.
3. Teens are tired of Facebook, but they’re still using it
The media has been reporting teens abandoning Facebook for years now, but the Pew report finds that like a lot of adults, teens are frustrated by Facebook but stay on the platform because of the integral social role it still plays. The report explains: They dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details, and are drained by the “drama” that they say is portrayed frequently on the site. The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm.” Yet 94 percent of them still use the site.
4. Tumblr numbers still aren’t very high
Yahoo might have liked the younger audience on Tumblr when it decided to acquire the site, but teen use of Tumblr is still pretty low. Only five percent reported using the site in 2012, although that’s up from 2 percent in 2011, a decent jump.
5. The subtweet goes mainstream
You heard it here first: 58 percent of teens are making inside inside jokes or sharing “cloaked messages” on social media.