Posted August 5, 2009 2:28 pm by with 4 comments

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Yeah, yeah, yeah—I’m sure we can all name some anecdotal evidence of teens who either hate Twitter or who can’t get off it. But by and large, according to a new Nielsen report, teens just aren’t on Twitter.

Or are they? The chart from the report looks at users on (as opposed to on phones or desktop clients):


Let’s start with the facts: In June of this year, teens and young adults made up 25% of the online population, which means that they’re disproportionately not using Twitter. Or I can accept that.

But the chart on the other hand looks a little misleading. Let’s start with the age bands—technically, you’re supposed to be 13 to use Twitter (doubtful that they can enforce the TOS, but, hey, let’s humor them). If we assume (probably incorrectly, but that’s kind of moot) that the distribution in the 25-54 range is roughly equal and readjust the age banding accordingly, then we get:

lie with statistics

Yes, teens and young adults are still slightly underrepresented. But remember this leaves out entirely everyone using phones to Tweet—and if I had to guess, I’d say that the same age group was slightly overrepresented on mobile usage.

Are teens not on Twitter? Maybe. The comments on Mashable point to at least one possible explanation—teens want to share personal information, but they want the granular privacy controls Facebook offers.

What do you think? Are teens on Twitter? If not, why not?

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  • This feels like another example of propagandata: using selective representation of data to tell the story you want to tell, rather than reporting the actual findings.

    This Twitter piece seems like an unrepresentative piece of research with some equally questionable analysis – the fact that it only looked at is enough to undermine any conclusions.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m looking for them now, but I’ve been noticing this tactic with increasing frequency. It’s dangerous and misleading. Research houses, more than anyone else, should know that the data need to be interpreted accurately for them to have any value; if you just want to back up an assertion, why bother wasting money on research that doesn’t really prove your point.

    Nathan over at Flowing Data has a very good post on this, advocating a more responsible approach:

    I’m beginning to wonder if Nielsen is using this approach to increase conversations about their work – they came to some equally controversial findings in their recent ‘Trust in Advertising’ survey too:

    But I think this ‘sensationalist’ approach is undermining research and making it much harder to employ it to demonstrate quality findings – it’s eroding people’s trust.
    .-= eskimon´s last blog ..newspapers are dead; long live news =-.

  • Well i think that teens will start to tweet even more because it is becoming popular to do so between famous people and teens more or less follow the lead of their “idols”.

    I have just been using it as a new advertising media for my projects..

  • Jamie

    Teens aren’t sitting stationary in a cubicle all day. Twitter is a good way to share content when you are busy. Post, browse, go back to work. Younger people need to be engaged more completely because they are not multi-tasking in the same way.