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NYT: Teens not on Twitter. Oh really?

Posted by reyjunco on August 26, 2009 in Commentary, Research |

The New York Times published an article citing Twitter usage data to support their notion that teens don’t use Twitter. NYT reported data from comScore that showed that only 11% of Twitter users are between the ages of 12 and 17. To put these figures in a different context, I created this chart based on data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project:

While the researchers at Pew didn’t report statistics regarding the 12-17 year old age group, I find it tough to swallow the assertion by the NYT that teens aren’t driving Twitter use. Coincidentally, the pattern of Twitter use reported by Pew mirrors the pattern of Facebook use reported by various studies.

So why the discrepancy? The NYT reported the statistics based on the Twitter population, whereby Pew reported statistics based on Internet users. Concluding that teens don’t really use Twitter because 12-17 year olds comprise just 11% of the user base is like saying that older people don’t use the local public swimming pool because every time I go, 90% of the people there are younger than 18.

We can say that of Twitter users, there are fewer in the 12-17 year old age group than in other age groups. We can also say that of all Internet users, the proportion of teens on Twitter is larger than other age group.

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