Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Teens prefer Facebook to Twitter because they want to waste time
Facebook (and social networking in general), was initially popular with teenagers before it gradually spread to an older audience. Even now the average teenager uses much more time on Facebook and similar sites than their parents.Twitter has initially become popular with an older age group and has not (yet) become equally popular with teenagers. For example, this survey reports that although 98% of 18-24 year olds use social networking sites, only 22% use Twitter. It is not immediately obvious why that should be so.
This report makes a convincing case that it is due to teenagers inherent narcissism, but I think that the explanation could be much simpler. Many of my contemporaries who have become fans of Twitter tell me that the big advantage of the site is that it takes them much less time to check out what its happening on Twitter. Older people have very busy lives, they would like to check out what is happening in their social circle - but they don't want to waste too much time on it. Twitter's simple interface ensures that it doesn't take too long to check it out.
I think that many teenagers are not overly busy and have lots of time to waste. I was looking at this interesting session from the O'Reilly 2.0 conference where they bring in a random selection of teenagers and interview them about their web usage. None of the teenagers use Twitter regularly. When they discuss why they don't use Twitter they seem to say that when they checked it out they could not see what the big deal was. Later in the interview they discuss why they like Facebook, one of the teenagers says that she loves the Facebook quizes because "they are a great way to pass tie when you are bored and have nothing else to do". I think this single sentence summaries the different attitudes.