Government Technology

What are Your Teenagers Doing Online?

December 19, 2007 By

Internet content creation by teenagers continues to grow, with 64 percent of online teenagers ages 12 to 17 engaging in at least one type of content creation, up from 57 percent of online teens in 2004.

Fueled by new technologies, Web sites, and social network domains such as Facebook and MySpace, large numbers of teens share and create materials online:

  • 39 percent of online teens share their own artistic creations online such as artwork, photos stories, or videos
  • 33 percent of online teens create or work on Web pages or blogs for others, including friends, groups they belong to or school assignments
  • 28 percent of online teens have created their own blog, up from 19 percent in 2004, and almost completely driven by the popularity of blogging among girls
  • 27 percent of online teens maintain their own Web page
  • 26 percent of online teens remix content they find online into their own creations

Girls continue to dominate most elements of content creation. Some 35 percent of all teen girls blog, compared with 20 percent of online boys, and 54 percent of wired girls post photos online compared with 40 percent of online boys. Boys, however, do dominate one area: posting of video content online. Online teen boys are nearly twice as likely as online girls (19 percent vs. 10 percent) to have posted a video online somewhere where someone else could see it.

These findings are highlighted in a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project Teens and Social Media. The report is based on a national phone survey of 935 youth ages 12-17 in November 2006. The margin of error for the survey is 4 percentage points.

The survey found that content creation is not just about sharing creative output; it is also about participating in conversations fueled by that content. Nearly half (47 percent) of online teens have posted photos where others can see them, and 89 percent of those teens who post photos say that people comment on the images at least "some of the time." Teens who post videos report a similarly large incidence of feedback, with nearly three quarters (72 percent) of video posters receiving comments on their videos.

"Content is created for an audience," noted Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist and one of the authors of the report. "For teens, the beauty of the Internet, particularly social networking Web sites, is that content can be created and easily shared among a network of friends. Even more compelling is that people in those social networks can easily comment and give feedback on shared content."

However, many teen content creators do not simply plaster their creative endeavors on the Web for anyone to view; many teens limit access to content that they share. Some 66 percent of teens with social network profiles restrict access to their profiles in some way and 77 percent of teens who upload photos restrict access to them at least "some of the time." In contrast, 58 percent of adults who post photos restrict access to them in some way. A smaller percentage of teens who upload videos (54 percent) restrict access to them.

Social network sites affect teens' lives in other ways beyond providing space for content creation and feedback. For many teens they are now an integral part of the system of communication that they use to conduct the work of their lives. Fully 41 percent of the teens who use MySpace, Facebook or other social network sites say they send messages to friends via those sites every day.

The Pew Internet report also highlights a new segment of "multi-channel" teens. These teens are super-communicators who have a host of technology options for dealing with family and friends

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