Social Media and Young Adults
Since 2006, blogging has dropped among teens and young adults while simultaneously rising among older adults. As the tools and technology embedded in social networking sites change, and use of the sites continues to grow, youth may be exchanging ‘macro-blogging’ for microblogging with status updates.
Both teen and adult use of social networking sites has risen significantly, yet there are shifts and some drops in the proportion of teens using several social networking site features.
- 73% of wired American teens now use social networking websites, a significant increase from previous surveys. Just over half of online teens (55%) used social networking sites in November 2006 and 65% did so in February 2008.
- As the teen social networking population has increased, the popularity of some sites’ features has shifted. Compared with SNS activity in February 2008, a smaller proportion of teens in mid-2009 were sending daily messages to friends via SNS, or sending bulletins, group messages or private messages on the sites.
- Young adults act much like teens in their tendency to use these sites. Fully 72% of online 18-29 year olds use social networking websites, nearly identical to the rate among teens, and significantly higher than the 39% of internet users ages 30 and up who use these sites.
Teens are not using Twitter in large numbers. While teens are bigger users of almost all other online applications, Twitter is an exception.
- 8% of internet users ages 12-17 use Twitter.2 This makes Twitter as common among teens as visiting a virtual world, and far less common than sending or receiving text messages as 66% of teens do, or going online for news and political information, done by 62% of online teens.
- Older teens are more likely to use Twitter than their younger counterparts; 10% of online teens ages 14-17 do so, compared with 5% of those ages 12-13.
- High school age girls are particularly likely to use Twitter. Thirteen percent of online girls ages 14-17 use Twitter, compared with 7% of boys that age.
Cell phone ownership is nearly ubiquitous among teens and young adults, and much of the growth in teen cell phone ownership has been driven by adoption among the youngest teens.
Three-quarters (75%) of teens and 93% of adults ages 18-29 now have a cell phone. In the past five years, cell phone ownership has become mainstream among even the youngest teens. Fully 58% of 12-year olds now own a cell phone, up from just 18% of such teens as recently as 2004.
Internet use is near-ubiquitous among teens and young adults. In the last decade, the young adult internet population has remained the most likely to go online.
93% of teens ages 12-17 go online, as do 93% of young adults ages 18-29. One quarter (74%) of all adults ages 18 and older go online. Over the past ten years, teens and young adults have been consistently the two groups most likely to go online, even as the internet population has grown and even with documented larger increases in certain age cohorts (e.g. adults 65 and older).
Our survey of teens also tracked some core internet activities by those ages 12-17 and found:
62% of online teens get news about current events and politics online. 48% of wired teens have bought things online like books, clothing or music, up from 31% who had done so in 2000 when we first asked about this. 31% of online teens get health, dieting or physical fitness information from the internet. And 17% of online teens report they use the internet to gather information about health topics that are hard to discuss with others such as drug use and sexual health topics.