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Latest Pew report – teens and social networking usage

It has taken a few days for the figures from the latest Pew internet report to spread across the blogosphere. This report, Social Networking Websites & Teens, begins to problematise some of the ‘trends’ that have been generally ‘accepted’, and reveals some of the uneven use of these services by different genders and age groups.

Here is the abstract –

A social networking site is an online place where a user can create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to other users. In the past five years, such sites have rocketed from a niche activity into a phenomenon that engages tens of millions of internet users. More than half (55%) of all online American youths ages 12-17 use online social networking sites, according to a new national survey of teenagers conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

The survey also finds that older teens, particularly girls, are more likely to use these sites. For girls, social networking sites are primarily places to reinforce pre-existing friendships; for boys, the networks also provide opportunities for flirting and making new friends.

danah boyd presents some excellent discussion of the report and points out that some of the figures might be the result of Pew’s methodology. That said, she focusses in on some of the ways that Pew reports that different teens actually ‘use’ services like MySpace. Fred Stutzman also covers the report.

Unsurprisingly The Register takes a sobering view of the report and uses it as another example of the ‘about to pop’ bubble-like nature of everything 2.0 at the moment.

3 replies on “Latest Pew report – teens and social networking usage”

I need to read through this report but this makes me curious if it will ever be feasible for a educational institution (informal or not) to set up a social networking space around the issues we would like to see discussed. Will there ever be a teen focused science, design, history space? Hmm…

I guess I am just trying to find out what this means for institutions’ use on the new social web.

Hi Bryan

I’d probably agree that it is hard to see how it will be feasible for an edu to set up a SN space. We did try one at the Powerhouse with our Soundbyte project in 2001 which lasted 3 years until we realised that it was too difficult to maintain in the social manner required to really keep it rolling. Soundbyte let students collaboratively create music and video and then share it with each other. Youth organisations and schools had pages sort of like MySpace etc.

Then of course all the other commercial services sprang up.

Now if we were doing Soundbyte again we’d just colonise MySpace or similar.

Yes, colonize. This shift is interesting, b/c our web projects become programs rather than development projects. Funding and department structures will have to change for these new strategies.

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