Why Don’t Teens Tweet?

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on August 25, 2009

(by Susan Olasky, WorldMag.com) – According to an analysis posted on the technology website TechCrunch, teens are resisting use of Twitter, the hot new social networking site. Daniel Brusilovsky, 16, wrote that teens are huge users of iPhones and iPods, BlackBerries and Palms, MySpace and Facebook-but only 11 percent of Twitter users are teens. Since teens are usually first adopters, why is that percentage so small? “Because Twitter is a different type of social network than Facebook.”

As Brusilovsky puts it, “Facebook is about connecting people, and sharing information with each other. The way my friends and I see it, Facebook is a closed network. It’s a network of people and friends that you trust to be connected to, and to share information like your email address, AIM screen name, and phone number. You know who’s getting your status messages, because you either approved or added each person to your network. With Twitter, it’s the exact opposite. Anyone can follow your status updates. It’s a completely open network that makes teenagers feel ‘unsafe’ about posting their content there, because who knows who will read it.”

Brusilovsky also notes that Twitter can be expensive: “In an economy like this, most parents don’t want to spend the extra money on unlimited texting to total strangers. So why spend money on sending SMS updates to Twitter, when you can send updates to someone you know will read it and reply?”

Brusilovsky’s favoring of Facebook reflects its surge over the past year. According to Nielsen Online, users spent 83 percent more time on social networking sites in April 2009 than they did in April 2008. Facebook minutes went up 700 percent, from 1.7 billion minutes to 13.9 billion. MySpace usage declined 31 percent.

But Facebook users need to watch developments -carefully: Facebook is revamping its privacy policy and testing the changes on a sample of users. The changes will open up information to people outside of Facebook unless users opt in to tighter privacy settings. It’s not clear from descriptions whether users will have to designate a privacy setting for every post, or whether they will be able to establish settings that apply all the time, as is -currently the case.

Copyright ©2009 WORLD Magazine, posted August 15, 2009.  Reprinted here August 25th with permission from World Magazine. Visit the website at WorldMag.com.