Why Teens Aren?t Using Twitter: It Doesn't Feel Safe

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Daniel Brusilovsky
TechCrunch.com
Monday, July 13, 2009; 12:12 PM

Twitter seems to be the hottest thing in tech recently ? if you look at TechCrunch, it averages at least 3 posts a week about Twitter. But the bigger question is, who is really using Twitter? Many of you might think that, as with most of the latest gadgets and technologies, teenagers are using Twitter, but you're wrong, and here's why. Matthew Robson, a 15 year old intern, over at Morgan Stanley, wrote a report on how teenagers are consuming media, and why Twitter isn't the hot topic in high school halls.

If you look at technologies trending with teens right now, it's Apple devices (iPhone, iPod), smart phones (Blackberry, Palm), and then social networks (Facebook and MySpace). At least that's what I see from hanging out with 1,500 other teenagers in high school every day (I am 16 years old). But why not Twitter? Well, because Twitter is a different type of social network than Facebook. 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. Sure, you get emails notifying you when you have new followers, but that doesn't compare to the level of detail you get when someone on Facebook adds you, and you get their information.

According to June, 2009 comScore numbers, 11.3% of visitors to Twitter.com in the U.S. are ages 12-17. Internationally, in May, 2009, only 4.4% of visitors were younger then 18.

Twitter is also seen as more expensive to keep up with than Facebook. Most of my friends spend their time playing video games, watching TV, surfing online, and text messaging to actual friends who you know will reply back. 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?

Facebook has a more dedicated community than Twitter, which is why teenagers want to use it. Maybe the reason Twitter still isn't considered mainstream quite yet is because Gen Y isn't the early adopter this time around.


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